Could Slots Save the Meadowland?

A New Jersey lawmaker believes that the introduction of slot machines could save a foundering horseracing track. State Senator Paul Sarlo maintains that he is not “slot-happy” by any means, but wants to see some slot games brought in to try and rehabilitate the image of the Meadowlands Racetrack, which was, at one time, one of the most popular racing facilities in the nation. It would be a minimum of three years before any slot machines could be brought into the South Jersey racing destination, owing to an agreement between the state government and the gambling capital of Atlantic City to give the town exclusive rights to gaming devices like the proposed slots.

Sarlo would turn the Meadowlands into a “racino,” as combination racetrack-casinos are called in the industry, to save it from almost-certain ruin. The stadium, built to hold forty thousand spectators, might get six thousand on a good night, Sarlo bemoans. Once upon a time, horseracing bets accounted for a full eighty percent of gambling revenue in New Jersey, Sarlo points out. Nowadays, that figure has dwindled to less than one percent – and the hit is being felt, big-time, at the Meadowlands.

Right now, the Legislature could not approve a plan to bring slot machines to the horseracing track, because of the Atlantic City agreement. And Atlantic City officials are unlikely to sit by and let another town import slot games, when gambling revenues in Atlantic City are tanking. But Sarlo is going to persevere, because he feels that it is important to keep “the sport of kings” alive in New Jersey.

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