New Jersey Dreaming

by Trey Nosrac

My Lyft territory is not in New Jersey. I have never been to New Jersey. I would have trouble indentifying New Jersey on a topographical map. A deep appreciation of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band and my regular donations to the Meadowlands harness racetrack are the alpha and omega of my New Jersey expertise.

My lack of actually residency, knowledge or experience will not impede me from offering suggestions to voters in the Garden State. A few satirical, historical, allegorical analogies will frame the issue.

Within my driving area is a pair of casinos and a pair of horse racetracks. Customers log on for transportation to these venues. Never has a customer pushed their ride app and requested transportation to the casino or racetrack farthest from their point of pickup. Location tells the tale. Customers, for reasons of time and commerce, seem to prefer the closest distance or the shortest route to their destination. This probably means that many urban New Jersyites are taking Lyfts and cash to other states, but other states are not reciprocating.

My understanding, always suspect, is that Atlantic City holds a monopoly on casinos in the state of New Jersey. Monopolies irritate some of us. Many times in our history, restricting commerce has led to trouble. It has also led to the Sherman Antitrust Act, the Wire Act, and possibly the Smoot–Hawley Act.

Questionable restrictions can affect us. My earliest cab driving days for a monopolistic company were only fare (ouch). Restrictions led me to Uber and then to Lyft. I have a scheme to go free agent in the future, but don’t tell this to my boss. Oh wait, I don’t have a boss. However, I do have an iPad, a car, a service and a few scruples.

My heart goes out to struggling businesses that are swamped with a tsunami of changing times and markets. My beloved horse racing can relate, the cab companies can relate, and you can probably relate. Everyone has to keep dancing to a changing tune even if we don’t like the song.

To us outsiders, passage of legislation that would place casinos outside of Atlantic City looks to be beneficial for the state as a whole. But most decisions, like the pending NJ legislation, are determined by self-interest rather than altruism. What is, or what we perceive to be, most beneficial to our personal circumstances will determine what side of the coin we want to see facing up. If, as rumor has it, some money is on the table for the monopolies to loosen their grip in exchange for support of the underlying legislation, it would seem prudent to take it.

Like everyone, I have my own agenda in this issue — a girl named Denise J. We met in a racing chat room and we are scheduled to meet in person. Denise claims to be a 36-year-old divorcee with an empty nest. Denise reports that she lives in May’s Landing, NJ and enjoys harness racing. She was happily employed at Atlantic City Race Course until the plug was pulled.

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Denise and moving to the beach are definite possibilities.

So here is a plan. Pass the legislation. Send some money back to Atlantic City to transition to a destination that is not quite so casino dependent. Of course it will not be easy, but the AC gambling gig appears to be losing juice every hour.

AC earmarks the funds to create a super safe, super clean makeover. Bring in and build stuff like aquariums, minor league ball parks, crime museums, sandcastle construction competitions, and the World’s Largest Diner. Dozens of harebrained ideas should be concocted to draw people who like to vacation at the beach but do not want to drive to Florida, or even to South Carolina.

One very important harebrained idea is from yours truly. As stated, I have an agenda.

Resuscitate the Atlantic City Race Course and have a snappy little summer race season that the Meadowlands could support with horses, purses and ingenuity. Maybe even turn it into a training center when harness racing in New Jersey is again booming. Make this dormant track part of a pull to bring people to the New Jersey coast.

Gosh, I enjoy sitting in my car, listing to music, wagering on harness races and saving the world.

So, let us recap. The Meadowlands Racetrack receives a slots license. AC gets a jolt. The New jersey breeding industry goes off life support. Atlantic City Race Course reopens.

If things fall into place, Denise goes back to work. She sends me her last name and a photo. I start using my real name. I drive my business to south New Jersey and set up shop. I get harness racing and the beach. Life is good.

Have Prius – will travel (within a few miles).