By T. D. Thornton
Although no firm opening date for sports betting at Monmouth Park has been confirmed by track officials, Memorial Day weekend could be shaping up as the tentative target.
On the operations side, the installment of bet-taking machinery and infrastructure, plus the training of staffers, are both on management's ambitious to-do list. State legislators also must make sure the legal framework is solidified before the first tickets can be punched.
Another important component–an agreement outlining sports betting revenue sharing between the track and horsemen–is also not yet in place.
John Heims, Monmouth's racing secretary and media relations director, emailed “TBD” in reply to a Tuesday query asking if an agreement existed and what percentage of sports betting revenue would go to fund purses. He also wrote that no exact date has been set for the track's sports book to open.
Yet even before a single sports wager is placed at Monmouth, the track could be entitled to hundreds of millions of dollars in alleged damages as a result of the major professional sports leagues and the National College Athletic Association putting up a legal fight when Monmouth first believed it had the authority to take sports bets on National Football League games.
According to a story first published Tuesday by the Asbury Park Press, restitution will be sought in federal court for nearly four years worth of what the track claims is lost gambling revenue, dating back to when a temporary restraining order barring sports betting went into effect at Monmouth in October 2014.
The Press reported that at that time, the leagues were required to post a $3.4-million bond, which the court deemed to be Monmouth's revenue losses for a month while the temporary restraining order was in effect.
Dennis Drazin, the chairman and chief executive of Darby Development LLC, which operates Monmouth Park, could not be reached for comment prior to deadline.
But earlier Tuesday, Drazin told the Press that “We feel we're entitled to additional damages. We believe the leagues acted in bad faith trying to stop New Jersey from taking advantage of sports betting while at the same time they were pursing fantasy sports through their equity positions with the FanDuels and Draft Kings of the world, playing games in jurisdictions that permit gambling on sports, all while telling the courts it was an integrity issue.'”