Bill to Return a Portion of Racetrack Sports Wagering Revenue to Eligible Communities Approved

A bill sponsored by Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee Chairman Paul Sarlo and Senator Vin Gopal that would distribute a portion of revenue generated from sports wagering at racetracks to the community where that track is located, or in the case of the Meadowlands racetrack, to the Meadowlands intermunicipal tax-sharing program, was approved by the Senate on Monday, June 25.

“Sports wagering is a new source of revenue for communities that host a racetrack,” said Senator Sarlo. “We need to be smart about how we use this funding and ensuring that a portion of this revenue goes back into communities where these tracks are located will provide money for infrastructure improvements and so much more. This is about reinvesting in the local site that is generating state revenue. Everybody wins.”

“Atlantic City benefits by this same formula,” said Senator Gopal. “A percentage of the revenue generated from casinos goes back to the city. Casinos generate economic growth and so do racetracks. Racetracks are generating needed revenues for all New Jersey residents. Returning a small portion of that revenue to eligible local communities so they can reinvest it in local projects is just smart government.”

Under the bill, S-2752, the revenue generated by the 1.25 percent tax on racetrack sports wagering would be used to fund projects related to transportation and infrastructure, tourism, public safety and properties located on or near that racetrack. The Division of Local Government Services in the Department of Community Affairs would establish accounts for each eligible municipality or county, with 0.75 percentage point paid to the municipality and 0.5 percentage point paid to the county.

The intent is to follow the Atlantic City model, where casinos’ 1.25 percent investment alternative tax goes back to Atlantic City.
In the case of the Meadowlands racetrack, the specified tax revenue would be directed to the Meadowlands District account. The Meadowlands intermunicipal tax-sharing program includes six municipalities: East Rutherford, Jersey City, Rutherford, Kearny, North Arlington and Ridgefield.

After the 2015 consolidating of agencies promoting the growth of the Hackensack Meadowlands District, the intermunicipal account was supposed to be funded by a 3 percent surcharge on hotel stays within the district. But revenues have continued to fall short of projections. These new revenues will be used by the municipalities and the District to sustain their economic growth efforts.

The bill was approved by a vote of 36-1.