07/12/2011 10:42AM

Christie vetoes New Jersey racing subsidies from casinos


New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has vetoed a decision by the state’s racing commission to award $15 million in casino subsidies to the state’s Thoroughbred and Standardbred industries, according to a letter Christie sent to the commission.

The decision to veto the act will not have a measurable impact on the plans of the racing industries, because the subsidy was not expected to be granted after it was inserted into legislation creating a new regulatory framework for the state’s casino industry. The subsidy provision was inserted on behalf of legislators in districts where the state’s racetracks are located, over the stated objections of Christie.

Under the measure, the state’s casinos would have been required to provide a total of $30 million to the state’s racing commission over the next three years, to be distributed as the commission saw fit to the state’s racing industries. Atlantic City casinos had previously provided a total of $176 million to the Thoroughbred and Standardbred industries over the previous seven years, in an agreement that expired at the end of 2010.

Christie stated in a letter sent to the commission that he vetoed the action because it “contradicts and jeopardizes my stated goal of creating a self-sustaining course for the horse racing industry.” Since being elected in 2010, Christie has vowed to end subsidies for racing.

At Christie’s direction, the state recently reached agreements with two private operators to lease Monmouth Park and the Meadowlands from the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, a state agency. The potential subsidy from the state’s casinos was not included in the leases or the budgets prepared by the leaseholders.

Under New Jersey law, the governor can veto actions by state regulatory commissions.