Conditional Veto in New Jersey

25 September 2000
Governor Christie Whitman yesterday conditionally vetoed the off-track betting and account wagering legislation sent to her by the legislature in June.

In her veto message to the legislature, Whitman said she "fully supports" the bill's intent but made several changes that she thinks will make it more practical. In a significant move, Whitman recommends that "the bill be changed to make NJSEA the sole entity eligible to hold off-track wagering and account wagering licenses that are awarded by the New Jersey Racing Commission." In her message, Whitman reasons that "[c]learly important to the success of off-track wagering and account wagering is having experienced leadership" and that "this role is best placed with the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority ("NJSEA") which successfully operates the Meadowlands and Monmouth Park." Other changes sought by Whitman would strip local authorities of the power to approve or deny the OTB facilities and reduce from 170 to 120 the minimum number of thoroughbred dates in the state.

Under Whitman's version of the bill, OTB parlors could be located only in areas zoned for commercial development. Thoroughbred horsemen pushed for the 170-day minimum for thoroughbred dates, but Whitman's veto message said that the number is "too expansive and may unintentionally impose economic harm" to the race tracks. The legislature can accept Whitman's amendments and approve the rewritten bill, introduce a new bill, let the issue die, or override the veto with a two-thirds majority vote.