By Neil Schulman
Oceanport — The success of ‘racinos,’ slot machines and other betting games attached to race tracks in nearby states, is attracting more support among New Jersey politicians.
At the Nov. 3 Oceanport Borough Council meeting, Councilman Joseph Irace said that last weekend, the Aqueduct Race Track in Queens, New York, opened its attached casino.
“They had 65,000 people on opening weekend, which was a record,” Irace said. Reports said that lines to get in to the filled track were a mile long.
It doesn’t just attract gamblers, but creates jobs, Irace said. The casino employs 1,350 people, most from nearby in Queens.
Oceanport is interested in this because earnings from the casinos supplement racing purses, and make horse racing in other states much more viable. Monmouth Park Racetrack is a major part of Oceanport’s economy, boosting its tax base, providing employment, and attracting people to nearby restaurants.
Following the success of this casino, just North Jersey Assemblyman Ralph Caputo issued a release calling for gambling at the Meadowlands track, something Oceanport officials have long supported.
“We’ve buried our head in the sand for far too long now and competition has reached our borders,” Caputo said. He has sponsored bills which would allow Video Lottery Terminals (which are similar to slot machines) in the Meadowlands.
Caputo said he understands Atlantic City has been reluctant to allow gambling elsewhere in New Jersey, but that makes no sense anymore.
“Why would someone from North Jersey or the New York area venture two to three hours to Atlantic City on a regular basis if they can take a short train ride to Queens?” he asked.
Caputo isn’t alone in calling for this, Irace said. “Our local Assembly members are all aboard with this.”
In related news, council unanimously passed a resolution in support of the ballot question on the Nov. 8 election, which would start the process of legalizing betting on sporting events, such as pro and college games, in casinos and racetracks.
Irace said both Governor Chris Christie and Democrats in Trenton have said they support this, and were planning to lobby Washington to allow this betting in New Jersey if it passed
Voters approved the question on Tuesday.