Last year at this time
everyone was worried about the future of thoroughbred racing in New Jersey.
There was a distinct possibility that there would not be any racing at Monmouth Park. New Jersey’s Governor insisted that racing
be privatized and that there would be no more subsidies from the state.
It was a struggle that
required skillful negotiations to strike a deal that allowed Monmouth Park to
once again have its 71 day summer meeting. However, the financial outlook based
on thoroughbred racing’s daily handle is still not promising.
The Governor insists
that there would be no slots at the state’s racetracks for at least a five-year
period. He had made a commitment to Atlantic City and their casino industry to
give them that period of time to pull themselves together. That left the racetracks in a very
difficult position. They are not going to be able to make ends meet without an
additional source of income.
Instead the racetrack has
turned to sports betting as that source. Monmouth Park has joined forces with
the Governor and his staff to challenge the federal law that blocks sports
betting in the United States. Betting on sports is illegal unless you live in
Nevada, Delaware, Montana, and Oregon. At the heart of their legal challenge is
just that fact that if sports betting is available in four states then why
shouldn’t it be legal in any other state.
A US District Court has
given the pro sports leagues and the NCAA until Jan. 20th to present
their case against New Jersey. In the mean time Monmouth Park is going ahead
with plans to begin taking sports bets.
The two biggest sports
betting events of the year are the Super Bowl and the NCAA basketball
tournament. Monmouth Park had planned to offer betting on the Super Bowl, but
Hurricane Sandy and Monmouth Park’s role as a recovery command center has delayed their plans.
Now Monmouth Park is looking
to take bets on March Madness. If the court gives the go ahead then they will
take real money Vegas style wagers. If no legal decision has been reached the
track will still take bets but the payout will be in prizes instead of cash.