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Companies Still Disputing Over Sportsbook Operation in South Jersey

Later this month, a judge could make a ruling that would determine which developer should be able to open a sportsbook at a South Jersey racetrack that is no longer in operation. Garden State Park in Cherry Hill, NJ, hasn’t opened its doors since 2001, but it’s one of five locations outside of Atlantic City legally capable of having sports betting.

Greenwood Racing, a successor to the company that previously ran the racetrack, is in a dispute with Cherry Hill Towne Center Partners, a company that developed portions of the area as a residential and retail center. They began a legal battle last year to operate a sportsbook on the land where the actual racetrack was. Greenwood also operates the Parx Casino and Racetrack, which is north of Philadelphia.

Wanting To Get Started

While this ongoing dispute continues, Cherry Hill Towne Center Partners would still like to accept sports betting wagers in the meantime.

Last month, the developer said it was close to striking a deal with a New Jersey sportsbook that is already in operation, and that would make things easier to get state licensing approval within three to four months.

Greenwood countered, saying there’s a document from 1999 that prevents anyone else from allowing gambling at Garden State Park and will be looking to file a preliminary injunction.

“The letter effectively terminated all mediation discussions,” said Roberto Rivera-Soto, a lawyer for Greenwood and GSPR (a Greenwood Parent company).

Just last month, Cherry Hill Towne Center Partners said they should be able to apply for the state license without any worries of the document.

On Monday, Greenwood claimed the developer can’t apply for a sports gambling license from the state without the pending lawsuit being a factor. Greenwood would like the opportunity to oppose the lawsuit as well.

Rivera-Soto said that Cherry Hill Towne Center, by filing the lawsuit, “admitted that it is bound by the prohibition against gaming.”

Lawsuit Details

In the lawsuit, the defendants stated that the developer “unequivocally is obligated to disclose to the New Jersey Racing Commission the existence of the restrictive covenant at issue in this case and the existence of this lawsuit.”

Attorney William Tambussi, representing the developer, argues that the covenant “does not expressly or clearly prohibit (Cherry Hill Towne Center) from opening and operating a sports wagering facility” at the land where the racetrack was.

In the debut year for sports betting, New Jersey had over $3 billion wagered at venues around the state like Atlantic City, Meadowlands, and Monmouth Park. This type of volume is right on par with what Nevada has been doing for years, and New Jersey is determined to become the sports betting leader in the United States. Yet another sportsbook for the state would help it increase margins to a significant level.

While sportsbooks are a great place of business, mobile betting is carrying the money bag for New Jersey. About 80 percent of sports betting in the state was done via that method and will essentially always have a leg up on other states in that regard.

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