What's certain is that a bill titled the "Off-Track and Account Wagering Act" has been introduced in the New Jersey state Senate committee on Economic Growth, Agriculture and Tourism. The bill, S. 1343, is sponsored by republican senators Martha Bark and Robert Singer and was introduced on Monday.
What's unclear is which, if any, racing interest is responsible for pushing the legislation.
In a report on the legislation in the Daily Racing Form, reporter Matt Hegarty quotes John Samerjan of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority as saying, "It is not legislation that was put in with our imprimatur, so to speak, on it... Our racing people are still analyzing the bill, and until we're done, we won't have any comment on it publicly."
Hal Handel, CEO of Philadelphia Park, which along with Penn National Gaming owns Freehold Raceway and leases Garden State Park, told Hegarty that although he had not seen the bill, from what he had heard, the legislation "would not be something [Philadelphia Park and Penn National] could support."
So far, only Barbara DeMarco-Reiche, a "lobbyist for horsemen," has voiced support for the legislation. The bill would permit a total of 15 off-track betting sites, but only eight licenses could be awarded during the first two years. In addition, the legislation would allow any New Jersey racetrack licensee that races at least 50 live race dates to be licensed as an account wagering operation.
The Bark/Singer bill is the second account wagering bill to be introduce this year in New Jersey. In January of this year, Sen. Singer and Sen. Richard Codey introduced S. 584, a similar bill that additionally legalize account wagering from OTB facilities.
Like S. 584, S. 1343 includes language that leaves the door open for Internet-based account wagering. Specifically, S. 1343 states, "The account holder may place a wager in person, by direct telephone call or by communication through other electronic media."
Click here to view a copy of S. 1343.