What Others Are Saying

October 16, 2007

A little more than two weeks before the eyes of the entire horse racing world will be trained on Monmouth Park for the Breeders' Cup, a study commissioned by Gov. Jon Corzine questioning the viability of the New Jersey horse racing industry was released. That's hardly a way to celebrate the sport's premier attraction.

Racing is the lifeblood of the state's $3.2 billion horse industry, which has fallen on hard times, largely because of competition from neighboring states where the tracks draw fans to "racinos." The study found that placing 2,000 video lottery terminals at the Meadowlands would not bring in enough extra revenue to sustain the industry. Of course not.

This is a broad problem requiring a comprehensive response that must include tapping revenue from slots, video lottery terminals and off-track wagering and, for now, providing a continued subsidy from the state's casinos. As the health of the horse racing industry improves, it can be weaned from the subsidy.

- Asbury Park (N.J.) Press

The Illinois Senate last month quietly approved a massive expansion of gambling. It would permit three new casinos and thousands of new gambling tables on the existing riverboats, and the possibility of online betting on horse races.

Here's a confession. As a Republican state representative years ago, I voted for a bill to move a defunct riverboat-gambling license from one part of the state to another. I broke my promise to vote against gambling expansion. My mistake still bothers me a great deal, and it prompts me to warn the members of this General Assembly who are thinking of supporting gambling to gain money for capital projects. Don't do it.

Gambling tempts legislators with promises of money that can be easily raised and used for wonderful projects for our children and the future - building schools, roads and bridges and creating jobs.

That's a dangerous temptation. University of Illinois professor John Kindt said in a recent interview that studies show "casinos create $3 in social costs for every dollar the state collects because of increased gambling addiction, bankruptcies and crime. ... If they decide it on the economic and social facts, gambling will lose every time."

- Richard J. Winkel Jr., Chicago Tribune

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