|Thanks to an agreement between the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association and the group representing the pacers and trotters, the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey, Off track betting and phone betting can finally go ahead, according to racing officials.|
Under the agreement there will be 141 racing days, a number that had been in dispute. Days were added to the next thoroughbred season at the Meadowlands Racetrack, where the core business is in standardbreds, said George R. Zoffinger, president of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, owner of New Jersey’s major racetracks. The change needs the approval of the State Racing Commission to take effect, said Zoffinger.
Another bone of contention, the division of the purses between standardbreds and thoroughbreds, should be worked out in the next 90 days, Mr. Zoffinger said.
By some estimates, off-track betting could generate $500 million in wagers over five years.
Phone betting systems should be operating this year, Mr. Zoffinger said, with more time needed for the betting parlors to open. 'I'm fairly confident that we'll see fairly decent revenue by the third year,' he said.
The settlement was reached four years after a referendum allowed the State Legislature to set up off-track betting parlors and phone betting in New Jersey, similar to what has long been allowed in New York, Connecticut and Pennsylvania.
The legislation allowing off track betting and phone betting was signed last year by acting Governor Donald T. DiFrancesco, but lawmakers could not create the parlors and phone systems until the two horse racing groups and the tracks could reach agreement on the details.