Dennis Drazin May 14 at Monmouth Park

Dennis Drazin May 14 at Monmouth Park

Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO

Monmouth Park Expects to Soon Offer Sports Wagering

New Jersey racetrack was a major player in push to overturn federal law.

When horseplayers wager at this year's Haskell Invitational Stakes (G1) at Monmouth Park, they may also have the opportunity to wager a daily double of sorts that would require the selection of the winning Haskell horse and the 2019 Super Bowl winner in the NFL.

That was just one possible bet Dennis Drazin, chairman and CEO of Darby Development, operator of Monmouth, presented during an afternoon press conference May 14, hours after the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the expansion of sports wagering in the United States. After nearly seven years of legal wrangling, Monmouth won its right to offer sports betting because the country's highest court ruled the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was unconstitutional.

Drazin was optimistic that the track could attract new players with its sports wagering offering because New Jersey voters already have approved sports wagering at tracks and casinos in the state, and Monmouth has a sports book facility ready to open. He sees many opportunities for racing to attract these players, and mentioned some of the possible wagers that would prove attractive.

In hopeful anticipation of today's decision, Monmouth is nearing the finishing touches on an expanded gaming area on the first floor of the grandstand, adjacent to the already existing William Hill Race and Sports Bar. In a press conference at the sports bar later May 14, Drazin said the decision means the survival of horse racing at Monmouth, allowing racing to compete with casinos and other gambling forms.

"It's about being able to compete at a world-class level," he said.

Drazin envisions the new money coming in as a way to fund purses, improve facilities, and offer more entertainment options. In a press release, he applauded the legal efforts.

"This is the culmination of the hard work and dedication of a large group of individuals, all of whom contributed to today's victory and will undoubtedly contribute to our future success," Drazin said. "We started this fight back in 2012 and are grateful that the Supreme Court has recognized that we've been right all along. We can now shift our focus on commencing sports betting, which will be off and running at Monmouth Park as soon as possible.

"I congratulate all the stakeholders in this endeavor and their steadfast resolve in overturning this now unconstitutional law. I want to particularly thank Ray Lesniak (former state senator), who has been on top of this issue since day one, and Gov. Chris Christie for supporting this effort all along. And now that victory is in hand, I look forward to working with Gov. Phil Murphy, who has been a strong supporter of today's ruling, on implementing sports betting.  

"My most heartfelt congratulations to the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association and all those who were willing to continue to stick their necks out in search of today's ruling. Their hard work will soon be rewarded, as will the people of New Jersey, who have supported sports betting for more than half a decade."

ANGST: Supreme Court Opens Door for Added Sports Gambling

In 2011 Garden State voters overwhelmingly approved sports betting and New Jersey subsequently passed the Sports Wagering Act, permitting licensing and regulation of sports gambling. The state was sued based on the now unconstitutional 1992 federal law, with ongoing litigation since.

On June 27, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a writ of certiorari to hear the consolidated cases of Murphy, Gov. of NJ, et al. v. NCAA et al. and NJ Thoroughbred Horsemen v. NCAA et al. Oral argument was heard in Washington, D.C., Dec. 5, with today's ruling officially marking an end to PASPA.

"Dennis Drazin was the driving force behind the sports betting legislation and Monmouth Park's decision to fight in court to bring sports betting to New Jersey," said Ron Riccio of McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney, and Carpenter, who served as lead counsel for the horsemen's association. "More than anyone else Dennis had the vision and determination to invest the time, energy, and resources that led to today's decision, which will ensure the security of the Garden State's billion-dollar equine industry."