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Certainly, there is nothing new about Freehold Raceway in New Jersey. A historic harness racetrack with a rich history dating back to the 1830s. Freehold holds the distinction of being the US oldest running racetrack. What is new and somewhat surprising, is Freehold’s somewhat late start to offer patrons the opportunity of sports wagering.
Freehold will become the Garden State’s third racetrack to offer sports betting. Quite a long time after nearby Monmouth Park and the Meadowlands Racetrack introduced the service as one of the first in the nation after the US Supreme Court reversed PASPA (the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act). Soon after, eight of nine Atlantic City casinos also offered sports wagering.
Regarding the onsite facility and operation, Freehold Raceway is owned and operated through a partnership agreement between the Penn National Group and Greenwood Racing, owners of nearby Parx Casino and Racetrack in Bensalem, Pennsylvania outside of Philadelphia. Penn National has recently paired with Barstool to launch their online brand app.
The road to success will include a few challenges for Freehold, including the sizeable lead and a head start its competitors have obtained.
“It’s growing every day, and it’s in a great area,” said Matt Cullen, senior vice president of interactive gaming and sports for Pennsylvania’s Parx Casino, which runs the sports book at Freehold. “We’re really excited about it.”
Currently, Freehold is open seven days a week for onsite sports wagering. They will begin operations will three current internet operators that are in the process of being approved by New Jersey gambling regulators. Cullen said he hopes to have the online operation up and running within a month.
Online operations will be extremely important to Freehold, where online wagering has been peaking at over 85% during the past Covid-19 influenced months but is expected to remain in the 80%+ range online within New Jersey in the immediate future. Like all other US states, geolocation restrictions regulated than bettors must be within New Jersey boundaries to wager.
From a convenience perspective, Freehold expects to compete for customers with its closest neighboring facilities in Monmouth Park, approximately 17 miles away in Oceanport, New Jersey. Freehold is more centralized within NJ, in a very populated area, across from busy Route 9 and the busy Freehold Raceway Mall. Holiday traffic could offer a boost, however this year the caveat being Covid-19 to likely diminish some of the effects.
Cullen added that he believed Freehold could get some sports betting customers from the western part of the county and surrounding areas who used to have to travel nearly to the coast to wager on sports at Monmouth Park. As far as people in the east and the folks who live by the beaches, that is yet to be seen,” Cullen said. “Time will tell.”
In addition to Monmouth Park, the FanDuel Sportsbook at the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford offers sports betting, is one of the nation’s largest and highest earners in terms of total revenue. The Meadowlands made nearly $119 million in the first nine months of 2020 after paying out winning bets and meeting expenses. The next closest competitor in New Jersey was Resorts Digital, obtaining approximately half of that amount.
Larry Gibbs is both a seasoned journalist and a respected online gaming industry consultant. His wry commentary & sharp analysis have appeared in numerous top gaming and sports wagering publications. He has also served as Vice President of US Gaming Services, a marketing research organization with 15 years of experience in US online wagering. He has spoken at noted gaming industry conferences including G2E, GiGSE, and NCLGS.
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