Harold G. “Hal” Handel, chief executive officer for Greenwood Racing, Inc. since 1998, has left his day-to-day duties at Philadelphia Park Casino & Racetrack and assumed responsibility for Greenwood’s New Jersey operations, which include the revitalization of Atlantic City Race Course.
Handel will also oversee Greenwood’s interests in New Jersey’s fledgling off-track wagering operations, including the newly-opened facility in Vineland, which commenced business in late March, and a facility in Toms River, as well as Freehold Raceway, a daytime harness track owned jointly between Greenwood and Penn National Gaming Inc.
Joe Wilson, Greenwood’s vice president of wagering, has assumed Handel’s responsibilities in Pennsylvania.
“This was something I’d talked to (Greenwood chairman) Bob Green about for some time,” Handel said. “And this seemed like an ideal time to do it. Joe (Wilson) will handle the racetrack and the Turf Clubs in Pennsylvania, and I’ll be concentrating on the company’s business in New Jersey, which includes legislative work for expanded gaming at New Jersey racetracks. This should be fun, and it should be good for me.”
Handel, a resident of Cranbury, N.J., has a long history in New Jersey racing. He was the executive vice president and general manager of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which owns and operates Monmouth Park and Meadowlands, and was the executive director of the New Jersey Racing Commission, as well its legal counsel. Handel was also the deputy attorney general for the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice.
Handel said the Atlantic City Race Course reconstruction plan is moving along, but slowly.
“Hopefully my increased involvement will help move it along at a faster pace,” he said. “But it’s a very complex project, and there are many governmental issues which quite frankly warranted more of my attention.”
Handel said plans call for the current Atlantic City grandstand to be razed and rebuilt on a smaller scale. It will include a year-round simulcast facility.
“There is engineering and architectural work still to be done, there are Pinelands Commission issues that need to be resolved, and our construction crew in Pennsylvania is currently pricing the whole project,” he said.
The racetrack sits within the boundaries of the Pinelands National Reserve, a unique area of pine forests, rivers, and streams, and any new building or development must be approved by the Pinelands Commission, which was created to protect the nearly 1.1 million acres that spans portions of seven New Jersey counties.
The Toms River off-track wagering facility, located near a senior citizen development in Ocean County, is progressing nicely, Handel said, with demolition of an old supermarket on the site complete. He predicts it could be ready to open by the end of the year.
“Favorites at Vineland,” the first off-track wagering facility to open in the state, is doing well, he said.
“We’re very happy with business there,” Handel said. “The facility has gotten good reviews, and its ‘sports bar’ approach, as opposed to a full-service restaurant, has been very well-received. We’ve found that food and beverage sales have been higher than in many of the Turf Clubs in Pennsylvania.”