NJRC to Discuss Closure of Casino Race Books

A meeting agenda item says four Atlantic City race books shut down at end of 2013.

It appears the New Jersey Casino Simulcasting Special Fund is going to get much smaller.

An agenda for the Jan. 15 New Jersey Racing Commission meeting lists the following item for discussion and information: a notice from Caesars Entertainment's Atlantic City properties–Bally's Caesars, Harrah's Resort, and Showboat–to cease all simulcast operations as of Dec. 31, 2013. References to race books have been removed from the casinos' websites.

Several other casino race books have closed in recent years. With those four out of the mix, only one--Borgata, the largest in terms of size and pari-mutuel handle–remains in Atlantic City.

The Casino Simulcasting Special Fund was created to offset revenue lost by New Jersey racetracks when the casinos first opened race books. Handle has gradually declined at race books to the point where less than $1 million accrued to the fund for 2012.

The NJRC awarded those funds to racetracks and horsemen's groups in late 2013.

Atlantic City Race Course, which offers the fewest dates of any track in the state, has long argued state law that created the fund was designed to protect the racetrack closest to the casinos. It received roughly one-third the amount each of the other three tracks in the state received and has pursued legislation authorizing a much larger percentage.

Outside of the Borgata race book, full-card simulcasts in southern New Jersey are limited to Atlantic City Race Course and its Vineland off-track wagering facility. Penn National Gaming Inc. plans to open an OTW facility in Camden County in southern New Jersey by early spring 2014.

Delaware Park, Harrah's Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack, and Parx Racing and its network of off-track betting parlors are all located just across the Delaware River from southern New Jersey.