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TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey lawmakers want to give the state's horse racing tracks a piece of the action on internet gambling.
The state Assembly on Thursday passed a bill that would authorize tracks to offer internet gambling on their premises if they reach a partnership agreement with an Atlantic City casino or an online affiliate of a casino.
Democratic Assemblyman Ralph Caputo says it's a way to help the struggling racing industry with new revenue.
"It would bring more traffic into the racetracks, and they need it desperately," said Caputo, a former casino executive.
Gamblers with internet betting accounts already can place bets from anywhere within New Jersey's borders, and don't need to go to a track to do so.
"The casinos should realize that absolutely nothing will happen unless they agree to allow it through an agreement with a track," said Dennis Drazin, chairman and CEO of the Monmouth Park racetrack in Oceanport. "Nobody is forcing anything on them. This is really a win-win for the racing industry and the casino industry."
Supporters envision track patrons placing online casino bets between races. The track would be compensated by the casino for drumming up new online business; the exact amount each track would get from a casino would have to be negotiated individually.
Drazin said tracks would set aside an area for customers to place casino bets over the internet. The tracks would be specifically exempted from state law banning so-called "internet cafes" that offer real-money gambling.
The Casino Association of New Jersey did not respond to a request for comment on the bill.
Internet gambling has been a bright spot in New Jersey's gambling market. On pace to win $250 million online this year, New Jersey has the largest market of the three states that currently offer internet gambling (Pennsylvania recently approved it but has not started offering it yet).
Delaware allows internet gambling through casinos based at racetracks.
The state Senate has not yet scheduled a vote on the measure, which is being considered in a committee.
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