The account-wagering era in New Jersey began Oct. 28, only two days before the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships. Though the system was up and running in the nick of time, it has been years in the making.
Legislation to authorize account and off-track wagering was passed several years ago. This summer, with approvals from the New Jersey Racing Commission in place, racing associations move forward with implementation of the system. Currently, only Internet bets can be made, with an automated phone system scheduled to be online by the end of the year.
Chris McErlean, general manager of Meadowlands for the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, said the system had about 1,000 accounts when it launched. Though races from other states are offered through the system, only New Jersey residents can sign up for accounts.
In a release, Dennis Dowd, the longtime racing executive who now serves as vice president of account and off-track wagering for the NJSEA, said it took the cooperation of horsemen, the racing commission, and racetracks to get the system operational in time for Oct. 30 Breeders' Cup at Lone Star Park in Texas.
The first bet, a $20 win wager, was made by racing commission chairman John Tucker through the Web site www.4njbets.com. The system is a joint effort of the NJSEA, which operates Meadowlands and Monmouth Park; Pennwood Racing, which operates Freehold Raceway; and Greenwood Racing, which operates Atlantic City Race Course.