01/17/2013 5:11PM

New Jersey Racing Commission acts to hasten OTB development

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The New Jersey Racing Commission on Wednesday passed rules designed to jump-start the development of new offtrack betting parlors in the state, according to the commission’s executive director, Frank Zanzuccki.

Rights to open OTB parlors are currently divvied up among racetrack license-holders in the state, which together have opened just four OTBs despite having licenses for 15. The lack of OTB locations in the state has been criticized by some members of the state racing industry.

Under the rules adopted Wednesday, the racetrack operators will need to submit paperwork to the commission by June 28, 2013, identifying locations and key business parameters for at least one new facility each. Those facilities will need to be fully licensed and opened by Dec. 31, 2013, or else the licenses will be transferred to the horsemen’s organizations at each racetrack.

In the case of Monmouth Park, which is currently being leased by the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, a failure to open a new OTB by the Dec. 31, 2013, deadline would result in a six-month extension, Zanzuccki said.

In all cases, if horsemen do not open an offtrack betting facility by the end of 2014, then the rights will be put up for auction to private companies, according to Zanzuccki. “It will no longer be a development right for industry,” Zanzuccki said.

Atlantic City Race Course currently operates one OTB from its total allotment of two. Freehold Raceway operates one OTB from its allotment of four, but on Wednesday the track announced plans to open an additional OTB by late summer. Under a complex arrangement, Monmouth Park and the Meadowlands, which is also being leased, share nine OTB licenses and have opened one each. The tracks have said they plan to open a joint OTB operation at a restaurant or bar sometime in 2013.