Governor: Private operators to run 2 NJ racetracks
The Meadowlands and Monmouth Park racetracks will be turned to private operators who will run them without state purse subsidies under agreements announced Thursday night by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
Christie said the new operators will take control of the tracks on June 1 and assume the costs associated with running live racing at the two venues. The private operators also will be responsible for simulcast wagering at the tracks, operation and development of off-track wagering facilities and continued operation of the state's account wagering system.
New York investor and developer Jeff Gural will take control of the Meadowlands harness racing track in East Rutherford. Gural has been negotiating with the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority since December to lease the state-owned facility.
Resorts Atlantic City casino owner and real estate developer Morris Bailey will operate the Monmouth Park thoroughbred track in Oceanport. In April, the NJSEA selected him as the winning bidder in a request for proposals to lease Monmouth Park.
Christie said there will be many beneficiaries of the deals.
"We are saving a New Jersey tradition with the continuation of live racing at the Meadowlands and Monmouth Park; we are saving and creating jobs; and we are helping to preserve New Jersey farmland and a way of life for many people, from horse farm owners and employees to jockeys and racing enthusiasts," Christie said.
Gural plans to invest $90 million to build a new grandstand at the Meadowlands and develop an off-track wagering facility in Bayonne.
"The deal we've reached will be good for the taxpayers, good for horse racing and great for the Meadowlands," Gural said in a statement.
In addition to Monmouth Park, Bailey will take over operation of the off-track wagering facility in Woodbridge and work with Gural to develop additional OTW facilities.
Bailey predicted the deal "will bring about a new era for horse racing in New Jersey."
The Republican governor has repeatedly said he was committed to making horse racing a self-sustaining entity that is no longer reliant on government subsidies.
The Meadowlands and Monmouth Park have lost money while being operated by the state in recent years, and horse racing purses had been augmented by a $30 million-a-year subsidy from the state's casinos in exchange for the state banning slot machines form the tracks.