11/16/2010 11:44AM

New Jersey adviser recommends sale of Monmouth Park

Bill Denver/Equi-Photo

An adviser to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has advised that the state sell Monmouth Park and convert the Meadowlands into an offtrack betting facility.

Jon Hanson, chairman of the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Gaming, Sports, and Entertainment, reiterated the recommendation in a note sent to Christie on Monday, several months after his commission came to a similar conclusion. The note said that the state should “immediately prepare a request for proposals” to sell Monmouth Park and its offtrack betting parlors and licenses. The note also said that the Meadowlands, which is located about eight miles from the center of Manhattan, is “too valuable” to operate as a harness track.

The recommendation is one of many that have been advanced by political and financial interests in New Jersey this year following promises by Christie to explore alternatives for the state’s horse racing assets. Legislators are currently working on bills that would address many of the recommendations, and last week, a state Senate committee advanced legislation that would legalize exchange wagering and cut the minimum number of race dates required to be run at the Meadowlands. Those bills are expected to be met in the next several months with competing bills that may have different goals.

Under the Hanson plan, Monmouth Park would run a 59-day Thoroughbred meet in 2011 and beyond. On the harness side, the Meadowlands would host a six-day meet centered on the Hambletonian in August 2011, plus an additional a 30-day meet at the track in the fall. Beginning in 2012, the harness meet would be expanded to 70 days at Monmouth, according to the plan.

Also on Monday, the state Senate passed a bill that would send $30 million from a tax on Internet gambling to the racing industry. The tax, however, could not be enacted unless federal law is changed to allow Internet gambling.

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