Currently in New Jersey, there are seven off-track wagering sites (OTW). In 2001, legislation was enacted that allowed the state to add 15 such developments within their borders. The goal was to provide an added way to bring jobs to the region as well as stimulate the economy. The option added new betting options to the five racetracks that were operating at the time. Now, almost two decades after the legislation was passed, another OTW may be in the works.
Cherry Hill Considerations
This week, the Cherry Hill planning board approved a facility in their region for off-track wagering. The facility is 30,000 square feet in size and must now complete a few more steps before offering wagering options.
Penn National Gaming would be operating the facility and they have not provided any further details as to when the venue would be operational. The building has been described as a sports bar and restaurant that allows betting on televised horse races.
The facility would be open each day of the week and operate from noon until midnight. The property would have 10 full-time employment positions and around 45 part-time employees. It has been predicted that the majority of those placing wagers on-site will be male and older in age.
Fighting for Gaming
The facility would be located at the former Garden State Park racetrack, a venue that has been closed for quite some time. GS Park Racing is an affiliate of Penn National who is currently involved in a legal fight with another firm who wants to offer sports betting at the location.
According to GS Park Racing, there is a deed restriction in place from as far back as 1999 that gives them exclusive rights to offer gaming and gambling of any sort at the track. The company was once the operator before the venue shut down in 2001.
Cherry Hill Towne Center Partners LLC is a developer working on the remainder of the property for retail and home options says that state law allows them to provide sports betting at the former racetrack. According to the developer, the deed restriction that GS Park Racing is citing is overly broad and does not mention sports betting.
Last year, a federal judge ruled that GS Park Racing was most likely going to win the suit but stopped short and did not issue an injunction against the proposal by the Cherry Hill company.
Local residents do not seem to be opposed to the plans but do worry about traffic congestion and how the tax revenues will be spent. Reports suggest that traffic will not be a problem and congestion will be minimal if non-existent. One resident was on hand during the meeting, stating that taxes should be collected on gaming to help the schools in the region.
For now, it is unclear as to if Penn National’s group will be given the rights to offer off-track wagering at the Cherry Hill site. The company has vast experience in the gaming industry, already in charge of 41 facilities in 19 different jurisdictions. They operate two off-track betting parlors, one located at Toms Rivera and one in the Gloucester Township. The project seems slated to move forward but it will not get the full go-ahead until any legal issues are taken off the table.