OCEANPORT:With opening day of Monmouth Park fast approaching, officials are optimistic about the future of the racetrack.
Monmouth Park has been doing pretty well over the last couple of years," said Dennis Drazin, advisor to Darby Development LLC. "I'm happy to tell you that we are now self-sufficient. It looks like from our 2014 numbers that we've reversed the losing trend and we will at least break even or show a little progress."
This is the fourth season that the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association has leased the track and Darby Development LLC has operated it.
Drazin said he believes that increasing attendance and a busy racing and event schedule will contribute to another strong season and a bright future.
"We're here to stay, there's no one that's going to close us down, there's no one that's going to put us out of business, racing will always be here," Drazin said.
He said there are two main issues that Monmouth Park is now facing and both involve the additional revenue streams of casino gambling and sports betting.
Legislators are trying to allow sports wagering to begin at Monmouth Park, but the major sports leagues were granted an injunction in November, and the plan has stalled until the Third Circuit Court of Appeals hears the case. One of the politicians who helped pass the legislation was Senator Ray Lesniak and he said he is hopeful that the state will be triumphant in its fight.
"I believe for certain that we are going to get this done and sooner rather than later," Lesniak said.
"Even if we lose, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals will put down a road map telling us exactly how we get sports betting done in New Jersey," Drazin said. "We're hoping to offer real sports betting in time for the (2015-16) football season."
Drazin said the hope is to at least bring fantasy sports betting to Monmouth Park in time for the NFL season.
"There seems to be, finally, a political desire to expand casino gambling beyond Atlantic City and into North Jersey," Drazin said. "I've been told by the politicians that support us...that there have been commitments made to Monmouth Park that even though we may not get a physical casino here we would be protected with the revenue sharing."
The revenue sharing would help take care of the track's purses, breeding costs and operating expenses. The borough would be entitled to a host fee as a hosting municipality for a casino as well.
A new off-track wagering facility is slated to open in Hillsborough this summer which will bring additional revenue to Monmouth Park. Drazin said he also hopes to see betting terminals installed in bars and restaurants in northern New Jersey in the future.