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NJ sports betting: Freehold Raceway finally ready for sports betting
4th March, 10:38Some 20 months after sports betting was legalized at racetracks and casinos in New Jersey, Freehold Raceway is finally ready to build a sports book of its own.
On Monday night, the Freehold Borough Council unanimously approved a resolution supporting an application by the harness track to seek a sports wagering license from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement.
The track, owned by Pennwood Racing, a partnership between Penn National Gaming and Greenwood Racing, has provided Freehold Borough with a basic plan for a sports book within the existing grandstand.
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"What we have is a very preliminary two-page document that states their plan is to do some renovations within the envelope of the existing structure," said Freehold Borough Administrator Steve Gallo. "They're not adding anything new. It's not going to trigger any major land use application or anything like that, and this is their first step towards getting a license from the DGE."
Since Gov. Phil Murphy placed the first legal bet on a sporting event in the state on June 14, 2018, the state's other two racetracks, the Meadowlands and Monmouth Park, have combined to rake in $250 million in gross revenue, with $42 million of that number generated at Monmouth Park. There is a 1.25 percent local tax on revenues, with .75 percent going to the municipality and .50 percent going to the county.
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New Jersey racetracks and casinos had a combined gross revenue of $299.4 million in 2019.
"It's good to see," said state Sen. Vin Gopal, D-Monmouth, who sponsored the sports betting legislation. "They have something that is pretty valuable that only a handful of people in the state have and that is that sports betting license so I am glad they are utilizing and hopefully it helps the area and brings people in.
"It has an incredible impact on the local economy, and on these two racetracks in Monmouth County and their employees."
An official for Penn National Gaming declined to comment for this story.
"They finally seem like they want to move forward," Gallo said. "It would certainly be a shot in the arm for the facility and a new experience for the region, so we are inclined to be supportive of the move."
Freehold Raceway initially received a sports betting license from the New Jersey Racing Commission after the state won a seven-year battle to legalize sports wagering. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which prohibited sports betting in a but a few jurisdictions, was unconstitutional.
Tracks must renew their licenses through the Division of Gaming Enforcement.
Sports betting would provide another alternative revenue stream for Freehold Raceway, which was purchased by Pennwood Racing in 1999 for $46 million. The track also owns Favorites, an off-track wagering facility in Toms River.
It's unclear who the track's partner in sports betting will be. But Penn National Gaming, which operates in 19 states, signed a deal last year with DraftKings, PointsBet, theScore and The Stars Group to be its online sports betting partners in various states. In New Jersey, DraftKings has already partnered with Resorts Casino in Atlantic City.
Monmouth Park's sports betting partner is William Hill, while the Meadowlands has partnered with FanDuel.