Racetracks in New Jersey will likely be allowed to offer bettors account wagering services over the Internet by as early as October. They also plan to implement telephone wagering and create several off-track betting sites.
The addition of Internet, phone and OTB parlors should increase revenue while giving bettors more convenient avenues to place their wagers.
As Jim DeBosh, a spokesman for the Meadowlands racetrack, points out, "Account wagering is really part of the modern racing product."
"We want our product to be competitive," DeBosh said, "so the state legislature gave us approval a couple years ago to do account wagering as well as off-track wagering, and we're pursuing both now."
DeBosh said they expect account wagering services to be up and running by the fall.
He added, "We recently reached a deal for personal augmentation with the Atlantic City casinos, and as part of that we got $750,000 for the equipment we need to get the account wagering up and going, so we're working on it as we speak."
To facilitate a smooth launch, the New Jersey Sports Exposition Authority (NJSEA), which operates Meadowlands as well as Monmouth Park, has hired Dennis Dowd to serve as vice president in charge of account wagering and off-track wagering. Dowd, a former president of Freehold Raceway and Ocean Downs, said he expects to have the required application for account wagering filed with the Racing Commission by its August meeting, and to be up and running in October.
"We would like to have the account wagering available in time for the Breeders' Cup (on Oct. 30)," Dowd said.
The NJSEA met on July 16 with the owners of two other tracks involved in the account wagering venture--Pennwood Racing, owner of Freehold Raceway, and Greenwood Racing, owner of Atlantic City Race Course. The parties formed the New Jersey Account Wagering Operating Board during the meeting and appointed board members from each founding company. It was also decided that the NJSEA would handle account wagering for all the parties. Revenue will be distributed through a participation agreement
Internet betting will be available when the system launches, but Dowd told the Star Ledger that the Meadowlands' telephone betting system might take longer to roll out. Telephone services, he said, generally take longer to equip with wagering services than do Internet services. He hopes to have the telephone service running within nine months.
The off-track betting sites, meanwhile, probably won't open until sometime next year. The Racing Commission this year gave the Meadowlands permission to establish up to 15 off-track betting sites in the state, and Dowd is searching for ideal locations.
"There are a multitude of steps involved, including the approval of the municipality once we do identify the site," he explained. "I am optimistic that we can have the first offices open by late 2005."