New Jersey, Stop Bailing Out the Racing Industry

As I’ve frequently written, much of U.S. Horseracing hangs by a thread. The anachronistic “Sport of Kings” can’t compete with its 21st Century rivals – lotteries, full-service casinos, and now, all-sports betting. And so, because they’re losing the (free-market) fight, the horse people turn to government for what they consider, and promulgate as, redress. (Never mind that for most of the 20th Century, Horseracing enjoyed a virtual monopoly on legal gambling.) And if nothing else, Racing excels at lobbying for state largess – subsidies. New Jersey offers but the latest example.

A WHYY article from earlier this week opens thus:

“New Jersey lawmakers are considering doling out $100 million over five years to prop up the state’s financially-strapped horse racing industry, which has continued to struggle despite beginning to offer sports betting this summer.”

Article quotes from apologists are all too familiar:

“This will be a huge help for the horse racing industry that is an important part of New Jersey’s heritage and culture and a key source of jobs and economic activity.” – state Sen. Vin Gopal, co-sponsor of the bill

“If you look at [the equine industry] as a pyramid, horse racing is at the top and pretty much supports everything from the pleasure industry to the agricultural industry.” – A.J. Sabath, Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of NJ

“Heritage.” “Culture.” “Jobs.” “Economic activity.” Blah, blah, blah.

Look, this is not complicated. The masses prefer, by far, the other-than-horseracing gambling options. For proof, go to any racino (combination racetrack/casino), especially ones attached to harness tracks. The slots rooms are buzzing; the track is a virtual morgue. Why, then, does government continue to take extraordinary measures to save Racing? Certainly not because it is too big or essential to fail. Rather, one side, their side, has an almost exclusive access to the political movers and shakers and is able to frame the argument in a way – by invoking jobs and the economy – that practically compels pols to vote in its favor. That’s why it’s imperative we be heard:

– share this and all I’ve written on Horseracing and the public teat

sign this petition regarding the above proposal

contact the NJ Senate Majority Leader and let her know that this cannot stand

Unfortunately, it’s not enough to change hearts and minds, for even if we were to turn 95% of the population against this vile industry, as long as the welfare continues to flow, horses will continue to suffer and die. In short, friends, this is a two-front war.


  1. The more I’m following both this story and the redo of pimlico – the more I am pleasantly surprised In that it seems many if not most pro racing fans are actually against both of these proposals. They seem to be verbalizing that pimlico’s rebuild is futile, and it’s not worth it for one prominent race a year. The ones against the New Jersey one seem to be verbalizing that New Jersey Racing has been too corrupt to waste this much money on furthering the corruption. Both of these are very telling about the nature and future of racing, even by those who support it.

  2. I am surprised that state Senator Vin Gopal is a co-sponsor of this bill as he is also a co-sponsor of two bills that would end the NJ black bear hunt because it is cruel to animals. Perhaps he needs to be educated about the cruelty of horse racing?

  3. Grateful to you Patrick for this article and for posting the petition.
    I sincerely hope that the residents of New Jersey fight this tooth and nail.
    As you mention Patrick, horse racing can’t be saved not even with millions in taxpayers/casino money so let it die, let it drop just like all the racehorses.
    Woodbine Racetrack Ontario Canada the first track in North America to put forth the racino business model
    received 345 million per year for 12 years and not even this mind boggling amount saved them.
    Fast forward to 2012, a change of government, and a much needed financial audit by a neutral accounting agency, and the report concluded that nothing, absolutely nothing had improved in Ontario horse racing.
    In fact, it had gotten worse, much worse and the fan base was actually reduced.
    Finally, the government said enough and put them on notice that their taxpayer ATM/cash cow was now going to end based on the fact that not even this amount of money could save this dead business.
    Just as this waste of money and animal cruelty was on the verge of collapse a virtual unknown politician called Kathleen Wynne (evidently she received huge sums of money from pro-horse racing entities in political contributions) did a 360 degree about turn and gave the horse racing industry 100 million per year for 20 years!!
    Any stupid idiot with an IQ of 5 would question the fact that if this industry in Ontario couldn’t improve itself with 345 million per year for 12 years how in the hell would they improve themselves with 100 million per year?
    Its absolute insanity not to mention a total waste of taxpayers money!
    Worth mentioning that while Woodbine was receiving a mind boggling 345 million per year hundreds of racehorses were being sent to the kill auctions, and subsequently ending up at slaughterhouses.
    Nothing, not one thing, improved for the racehorses and won’t improve with this additional 100 million either.
    Not one line in these financial contracts makes it mandatory for this industry to pay up, to own up, and to be financially responsible for these racehorses when they are done maiming them.
    I’m not a partisan poster because I don’t care what political party gets in there I just want one politician/party to stop this immoral vile business from hurting racehorses, and to stop wasting precious taxpayers money. which can only mean shutting this horror show down.
    There’s no doubt in my mind that these 2 New Jersey Senators are or will financially gain from putting forth this failing proposition.
    It will take just one politician to choose moral ground above money, revoke the contract, and strip away their funding so that this horror show can shut down once and for all.

  4. Another eye-opening article — thank you, Patrick. — Again, my jaw drops — I’ll repeat here, we must ensure NJ residents, NJ lawmakers KNOW about the horror & cruelty in this industry — Let’s hope this will do it — if not, we keep at it.

  5. Update:
    One of the local newspapers in New Jersey conducted a poll (Link provided):
    Should lawmakers give horse racing 100 million per year?
    Over 60% of New Jersey residents said NO.
    Most agreed with former Gov. Christie who stopped all funding to horse racing quoting that it was a “total waste of taxpayers money.”
    Please go to this article and have your say, please sign the petition (link provided), and share.
    I will submit this petition as soon as I get 1000 signatures.
    Important to note that when the Bill was first announced it was going to be 20 million per year.
    By the time it got to the legislature that had increased to 100 million per year.
    Outrageous and just goes to show how much lobbying power this industry has.
    However, the voices of horse lovers, and New Jersey residents are being drowned out.
    The buzz word that the horse racing industry always pushes is “revenue sharing,” once they are up and running, the “revenue sharing” goes out the window and the taxpayers are left footing the bill.
    I’m just a pea on a pod, but I do have a voice, I can submit petitions, and be part of the political process, but I certainly can’t match the power/money of this industry whose source is usually OUR money, our hard earned taxpayers money or money made off the bones, backs, and lives of the poor racehorses whom they exploit.
    We have every right to have our voices heard.
    That’s the best I can do for the racehorses or any animals for that matter.

      • Thanks Mari.
        Scroll to the top of this article written by Patrick about half way down in red ink “Sign this Petition.”
        Click on “Sign this Petition,” and there you will find it.
        I’m a voice for the racehorses, but sadly this seems to be a pretty done deal.
        It just passed the New Jersey Senate and will be sent for signing to the Governor’s office in the New Year.
        They are now alerted to us, to our petition, and to the strong opposition gaining steam from people against horse racing, but also from New Jersey residents who the majority oppose this, and want money for education.
        So they seem to be shoving it through with no public consultation whatsoever when they are taking 20 million per year from the taxpayers, the public coffers to support the massive pain, suffering, maiming and killing of racehorses.
        It’s such a waste of money, natural resources, and racehorses lives who pay the ultimate price.
        These ignoramus parasitic human vampires are like a virus that needs to be stopped.

  6. The ongoing financial support, at the expense of taxpayers, to any racetrack should be illegal.
    Billions in taxpayers money and casino profits are going to feed a dying and unethical business.

    It beggars belief that cash-strapped towns all across North America can’t find the money for education and infrastructure, but continue to feed this industry millions of taxpayers/casino profits.
    In the light of billions they still send their disposable gambling chips, the racehorses, to slaughter.

    Folks, it’s time to shut this business down, stop the money flow, and vote out politicians who support this total waste of money.

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