Off-Track Wagering to Debut in New Jersey in March

Seven years after off-track wagering was legalized in New Jersey, the first OTW parlor is nearly ready to open.

Pennwood Racing, a joint venture between Greenwood Racing and Penn National Gaming Inc., announced that The Turf Club on Delsea Drive, a facility in Vineland at the site of an old auto dealership, is set for a grand opening early in March. Vineland is located in Cumberland County in southern New Jersey.

“We expect Vineland to open either the week of March 4 or March 11,” said Hal Handel, chief executive officer of Greenwood Racing. “We should have better idea later in the week.”

Vineland officials were the first to approve off-track wagering, and 14 OTW parlors are expected to be built throughout the state. The Turf Club on Delsea Drive is a 15,000-square-foot facility with marble floors, plasma-screen televisions, and wireless betting devices, modeled after Greenwood’s six Turf Clubs in Philadelphia and its suburbs.

“We know it's going to be a destination point,” Vineland Mayor Perry Barse said in the Newark Star-Ledger. “Anything that enhances the economy in a positive manner is something we're seeking to do. More people in our restaurants, more people buying gas--that’s just positive.”

Another OTW to be built by Pennwood is in Toms River, at the site of an abandoned Grand Union supermarket, which will be razed for a new Turf Club. It recently cleared several legal challenges by Berkeley Township officials who were concerned about its location near a senior citizen development. Toms River is located in Ocean County.

“The Toms River demolition contract is expected to be bid and awarded within the next two weeks, the first phase of the construction project,” Handel said. “Its likely opening is in the later part of summer.”

In other news, Handel said plans for the redevelopment of the Atlantic City Race Course site are progressing well. “The Pinelands Commission is next on the agenda for us,” Handel said.

Greenwood plans to demolish the circa-1946 grandstand and replace it with a smaller racing facility much like a Turf Club, and explore other uses for the property, including a new stadium for the Atlantic City Surf minor league baseball team. When all governmental approvals are complete, Handel expects work to begin sometime later this year.