Account, Off-Track Wagering Closer in New Jersey

After months of legal wrangling and negotiations, the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority is close to presenting the New Jersey Racing Commission with participation agreements between itself and two other racing companies in the state in regard to account and off-track wagering.

When approved, account wagering could commence as early as mid-2003, but because of municipal issues and the time needed for construction, off-track wagering is not likely to begin until late 2003 or 2004, according to Art Winkler, attorney for the NJSEA, which operates Monmouth Park and Meadowlands.

"The participation agreements with Pennwood Racing and Greenwood Racing (owners of Freehold Raceway and Atlantic City Race Course, respectively) took some time to negotiate," Winkler said. "There were arguments over money--how income and expenses would be divided, who would run the off-track betting sites, and things of that nature."

Winkler said 15 off-track wagering parlors would be built, with the majority run by the NJSEA. After the participation agreements are approved by the racing commission, Winkler said sites for the parlors would be chosen.

Accout wagering will be operated jointly by the NJSEA and Pennwood, which is a partnership between Greenwood Racing and Penn National Gaming. Winkler believes the wagering hub would be located at Meadowlands.

Currently, a planning committee has been in contact with several television outlets, including Comcast and the New Jersey Network, to secure a cable channel to broadcast races from New Jersey tracks to in-home bettors.

"We're in the process of finalizing the participation agreements, and frankly, it looks like we'll present them to the commission sometime in January," Winkler said.