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Racetrack slots bill would aid NJ transportation and pension funds

Another New Jersey lawmaker is planning to draft legislation to ask voters if they would like to amend the state constitution to allow slot machines at four Garden State racetracks.

Slot machines
Joe Raedle, Getty Images

Assemblyman Jason O’Donnell (D-Bayonne) said his proposal would help bolster the state’s bankrupt Transportation Trust Fund and its underfunded pension system.

“What I’m going to propose is that 50 percent will be used to shore up the pensions and 50 percent of the tax revenue would be dedicated to the Transportation Trust Fund,” O’Donnell said.

Unlike other similar proposals that call to bring slot machines to the state’s racetracks, this one wouldn’t use the money collected to help fund Atlantic City. “In a perfect world I get that we need to figure out a way to save Atlantic City. I don’t think this is it. These funds should not to go back to Atlantic City.”

The non-partisan Office of Legislative Services is currently researching the legislation, according to O’Donnell. He said he will formally introduce it in the near future.

A resolution recently introduced by State Sen. Joe Pennacchio (R-Pine Brook) would also help bolster the state’s public worker pension system by allowing slot machines at Jersey’s racetracks, but 50 percent of the generated funds would be dedicated to Atlantic City casinos.

“Whatever monies are made from the four ‘racinos’ will then be divided 50 percent for the state, 40 percent for that consortium and 10 percent back to Atlantic City to enhance and enrich their gaming and entertainment venues,” Pennacchio said.

Neither question could be placed on the ballot until next November at the earliest.

It is unclear how much revenue could be generated, but the latest available statistics revealed that between October 2006 and June 2012, New York’s Yonkers “racino’ contributed $1.5 billion to the state.




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