On behalf of the Standardbred Breeders and Owners of New Jersey and the thousands of people who work in New Jersey’s equine industry, I’m writing to express our unwavering support to Vote Yes on Question 1 and expand casino gaming north of Atlantic City.
New Jersey has a long and distinguished horse breeding history, with about 25 percent of all current New Jersey farmland home to some of the most historic and prestigious horse farms throughout the United States. Our industry, however, has slowly declined as New Jersey’s racing purses have decreased and our horse farmers are continually pressured by real estate developers to sell their land for housing. We need the dedicated revenue from a new North Jersey casino to bolster our struggling industry. Without a new revenue infusion, many good, hardworking people will lose their jobs and be forced to leave the state. That would be a crippling blow to New Jersey’s economy, as our industry generates over $110 million in annual tax revenue and provides nearly 13,000 jobs for the horse breeders, owners, veterinarians, tack and feed suppliers, handlers, groomers, racetrack operators, travel companies and others that directly and indirectly support New Jersey’s horse breeding and racing community.
The most viable option to help save New Jersey’s dwindling horse farms is to increase the financial subsidy that our industry receives from legalized casino gambling in New Jersey. Since increased gaming revenues at Atlantic City casinos are unlikely, the best approach is to build a world-class casino in northern New Jersey — preferably at the Meadowlands — that could generate hundreds of millions in new gaming revenue, a portion of which would go to protect our horse industry.
Atlantic City is faltering as more casino-goers — especially those living in and around New York City, Philadelphia, and central and northern New Jersey — choose to spend their leisure time at the nearby casinos in Pennsylvania and New York. A North Jersey casino, however, can and will thrive in a region like the Meadowlands, which already is a premiere sports and entertainment destination to millions of people in the New York City region. Besides the hundreds of millions in revenue a new Meadowlands casino would bring to our state, the employees that have lost their jobs and careers with the recent closing of several Atlantic City casinos would have the ability to continue working in the industry and state that they know and which provides so many economic benefits for them and their families.
The men and women of the SBOANJ are investing their limited resources to ask New Jersey voters on Nov. 8 to Vote Yes on Question 1. If this public question is approved, New Jersey could rightfully reclaim billions of dollars in casino gaming revenue that New York and Pennsylvania currently are collecting from New Jersey casino patrons. Since New York and Pennsylvania casino operators are spending over $10 million in advertising throughout New Jersey to keep voters from approving this question, it stands to reason that these out-of-state and overseas casino interests know that a world-class casino and entertainment venue in the Meadowlands would siphon away much of their profits.
By voting “Yes” on Question 1, New Jersey residents have a chance to protect our existing farms and open spaces, preserve historic jobs, create new careers and provide millions of people from the area and around the world the opportunity to enjoy themselves in a best-in-class entertainment facility right next door to New York City. Contrary to a bad bet, it’s a good investment.
Mark Ford is president of the Standardbred Breeders and Owners of New Jersey.