Management at Philadelphia Park sent a letter dated January 5 to all of its Phonebet customers in New Jersey advising them that it expects to receive formal notice from the New Jersey Racing Commission to stop accepting their phone wagers. "Once the commission issues this formal directive (expected to be on Jan. 20), you will receive notice from us and all New Jersey accounts will be closed," the letter states.
The letter, signed by Hal Handel, Philadelphia's chief executive officer, also states that the New York Racing Association will not allow Philadelphia to accept wagers on NYRA tracks from New Jersey residents effective immediately.
"We wanted to give our account holders a heads up in anticipation of the Jan. 20 directive from the New Jersey Racing Commission," said Handel. He said that Philadelphia's Phonebet does "a significant" amount of business with New Jersey account holders, and that once the directive is issued the accounts will be closed and all monies refunded. Should legislation be passed that would allow phone wagering in New Jersey, residents would only be allowed to open accounts with companies doing business in the state.
Frank Zanzuccki, executive director of the NJRC, said that the NJRC had received numerous calls from N. J. residents with phone accounts, and that most people "were very upset."
"Most people understood why this was done, but they're not very happy," he said.
In December, the NJRC received advice from the Attorney General's office regarding Internet and phone wagering issues with out-of-state providers, and subsequently notified companies doing business in the state that such activity was illegal.