OCEANPORT - The chairman of the Governor's Commission on the Horse Racing Industry said Wednesday that the panel is not funded, making it more difficult to address some key issues facing the racing business.
Commission Chairman Robert Bildner said at its meeting Wednesday morning at Monmouth Park that the panel has no state funding. It apparently will rely on three interns and people borrowed from other state agencies and colleges to do its job of producing a report on the future of the state racing industry by July 1, 2010.
After the meeting, Bildner declined to say how much money it needs to do its work. State Treasurer David Rousseau, also in attendance, said the commission had not sought state funding in the budget approved this week, but also suggested state colleges and universities could aid the commission.
Bildner's comments came as racing advocates raised questions about a study commissioned by Casino Association of New Jersey that will analyze the standardbred and thoroughbred industries. Critics said the study should be paid for equally by the horsemen and casino interests, or the study should be analyzed independently by the governor's commission.
In a presentation, Trump organization attorney Joseph Fusco, representing the Casino Association, said officials on the commission should look at why fewer people are going to tracks than in the past and why the amount wagered is shrinking while separately analyzing the standardbred and thoroughbred industries.
Bildner thanked Fusco, but admitted the "commission doesn't have the resources to answer the very legitimate questions that you propose."
Fusco said the association has separately retained Linwood's Spectrum Gaming Group, a company with international reach that has examined different forms of gaming across the country and around the globe. He said he expects the company to produce a report by late September, using data including some from the state Sports and Exposition Authority, which owns two race tracks.
Among those who questioned the funding was state Sen. Jennifer Beck, R-Monmouth, Mercer, who suggested the nonpartisan state Office of Legislative Services aid the commission.
The commission is examining the relationship between horse racing and Atlantic City's casinos, which are blamed for undercutting the racing industry. At the same time, casinos agreed last year to pay $30 million annually through 2011 to support the horseracing industry in exchange a continued ban on video lottery terminals at the tracks.
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