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New Jersey can save open space and horse racing with one word: Override

If the New Jersey legislature can unite and work together to override Chris Christie's veto of the sports betting bill, it will help save open space and the horse industry in the state
If the New Jersey legislature can unite and work together to override Chris Christie's veto of the sports betting bill, it will help save open space and the horse industry in the state
Photography by Marcya Roberts

With Governor Chris Christie all over the national map, the New Jersey legislature has started taking some matters into its own hands. This is good for New Jersey. Just last month the state's legislature came together and approved the open space referendum. Now New Jersey voters will have a say in November on open space funding.

If the legislature can maintain its united front a little bit longer and press on with an override of Governor Christie's veto of the sports betting bill on September 22, the legislature will accomplish something of extraordinary value and significance: Saving the horse industry that creates the open space in New Jersey.

A bipartisan bill supported by everyone (including the Governor) didn't deserve a veto.

Both the senate and the assembly by overwhelming bipartisan margins supported the initial bill which repealed the state's sports betting prohibitions. Monmouth Park began preparations months ago to roll out sports betting and has been sitting tight, ready for action. The governor was on board. Things looked peachy. Suddenly, the governor vetoed the bill unexpectedly. Critics believe Christie reversed himself at the expense of the people of New Jersey to maximize his chances for a run at the White House.

An override can fix everything.

This issue is not just about sports betting. It's about the survival of the equine and agriculture industry which gives New Jersey open space.

What many people don't realize is that New Jersey horse racing is the engine of the equine and agriculture industry and one of the primary reasons New Jersey has beautiful open space. The state has 56,000 agricultural acres related to horse racing alone and 176,000 total acres of equine-related operations according to the most recent Rutgers report.

"When I got involved with this issue, I was awestruck by the horse breeding industry in New Jersey and the vast amount of acreage involved. It became my mission to preserve it, the open space, and the jobs that go with the horse racing industry as a whole," explained Senator Ray Lesniak, sponsor of original bill and organizer of the override. "People don't realize the vast amount of acreage we have undeveloped thanks to the horse racing industry."

Sports betting is something the equine industry needs for survival. For years the New Jersey horse racing industry has been neglected, ignored and pretty much left "by the governor to wilt on the vine" as Lesniak says. In the meantime, horse racing in surrounding states is booming due to CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE TO PAGE TWO OF THIS ARTICLE