Following Governor Chris Christie’s proposal to dedicate revenues from the state lottery to public pensions, Senator Joe Pennacchio (R-Passaic) again called for the limited expansion of gaming at the state’s horse racetracks as an additional way to infuse critically needed funds into the state’s struggling public employee pension systems.
Senator Joe Pennacchio’s proposed constitutional amendment, SCR-16, would allow for slot wagering at New Jersey’s horse racing facilities. (Wikimedia Commons)
“For years, we’ve urged for the creation of dedicated revenue streams to shore up our public pension systems, and I commend the Governor for supporting this approach as a way to address one of the state’s most pressing fiscal issues,” Senator Pennacchio said. “We can take it one step further by opening the door for the establishment of racinos, which would create a substantial new source of revenues for pensions, bolster our casino industry, and support the financial recovery of Atlantic City.”
Under Pennacchio’s proposed constitutional amendment, SCR-16, 60-percent of the revenue from gaming at racinos would be dedicated to New Jersey’s public worker pension system, 30-percent would go to the current consortium of operating Atlantic City casinos, 7-percent would go to the recovery, stabilization or improvement of Atlantic City and 3-percent would go to support the state’s equine industry. The gaming facilities could only be operated by companies that operate casinos in Atlantic City.
The measure has already received support from two of the state’s largest public sector unions, the Fireman’s Mutual Benevolent Association and the New Jersey Police Benevolent Association.
“The success of racinos in the State of New York has shown that this is a model that works,” Senator Pennacchio said. “The nine racinos in New York generate more tax revenues than all of the Atlantic City and Las Vegas casinos combined. Allowing racinos in New Jersey would give us a chance to generate hundreds of millions of dollars more annually to support our underfunded pension systems, without raising taxes or diverting funds from any other programs or services. This new ‘found money’ would make a huge impact on the long term viability of the state pension fund. Quite simply, this is a proposal that we can no longer afford to ignore, and it deserves to be part of this year’s budget discussions.”
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