Sports betting could give New Jersey’s horse industry a chance

Other states such as New York, Maryland and Pennsylvania have generous incentives for horse racing. That is a drop from a high point of 517 according to the Thoroughbred Breeders Association of New Jersey. 17 Governor Christie put ink to paper and signed legislation that will allow sports betting at casinos and racetracks in New Jersey.

A lot of livelihoods are resting on the success of sports betting in the state. It is expected to breathe new life into a struggling industry that has been at the mercy of arbitrary state policies for decades.

It is true that many Thoroughbred horsemen have either retired or have left the state for greener pastures. However, New Jersey is not quite in the clear as of yet since sports leagues could try to prevent the state from offering sports betting due to the federal ban currently in place. “Sports wagering will enable the New Jersey-bred program to compete with surrounding states.”

One breeder who feels it may already be too late to turn things around is Eileen Munyak of Hill Haven Farm in Millstone Township. Sports wagering will bring much needed revenue for Monmouth Park and signals a new beginning for the Thoroughbred breeding program in New Jersey.”

Thoroughbred breeder Peter Roberts, owner of Rock Talk Farm in Monmouth County, is cautiously optimistic, “If the federal court embraces New Jersey’s new statute and clears the way for legal sports betting in the state, a natural outcome will be more horses, more farming, more agriculture and open space in New Jersey,” he said.

The equine industry may still have a future in the Garden State. “New Jersey-bred horses and the farms they are born on are an important part of the New Jersey economy,” said Mike Campbell. These small numbers put pressure on trainers and owners who need daily help to care for horses year-round but must now rely on a tiny pool of races to pay the bills.

Gerri and Lloyd Kromann of Edgemont Farm in Millstone who breed and race in New Jersey are excited about the prospects, “We hope that sports betting translates to more racing days and increased purses so we can continue to breed and race here.”

Mike Campbell, executive director of the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association of New Jersey is excited about what the legislation will do for the horse breeders and racing. On Friday, Oct. By 2014 the number of race days dropped to just 71. Campbell commented, “S2460 paves the way for legalized sports wagering in New Jersey. And only 69 Thoroughbred mares were bred to New Jersey stallions in 2013 down from a high of 597 all due, in large part, to the decline in the number of racing days.. It plans to start on October 26.

The track and the horsemen see the bill as a lifeline for the survival of horse racing within the state. The old breeding families have passed on and the children from these families just don’t see it as a way to make a living.”

But not all Thoroughbred breeders are convinced that the statute will have an impact.

Following the Governor’s approval, Monmouth Park, the venue for Thoroughbred horse racing in Oceanport, NJ, was the first to announce it will begin taking sports bets. New Jersey is circumventing the ban by allowing sports betting through non-state-regulated private entities.

A sigh of relief among New Jersey horsemen

In 1993 there were 289 Thoroughbred race days in New Jersey providing full-time work for those in the industry. “I have slowly phased out of breeding there is not enough incentive for a family-owned operation to sustain itself in the horse business. Only 122 Thoroughbred foals were registered in New Jersey in 2013. The fallout has been a precipitous decline in the number of foals born in the Garden State. Financial independence for the horse racing industry is indeed key for its future. New Jersey horseman have been lured to these states in order to keep their businesses going

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