A week and a half after the US Supreme Court threw out a decades-old ban on sports betting, the effects continue to ripple throughout the country. The decision may be enough to even bring the Atlantic City Race Course back from the dead.
The ACRC began life in July 1946 and enjoyed almost 70 years of operation. However, the track closed in January 2015, the result of declines in both horseracing nationwide and gambling in Atlantic City itself.
In this new world of sports betting, things are moving and changing quickly. The bill in the New Jersey Assembly to regulate sports betting across the state would also allow wagering at former racetrack facilities.
The only stipulation is that the track must offer a racing season by July 2020. The season must feature at least 50 race days to qualify.
Live racing at Atlantic City Race Course in two years?
Unfortunately, that stipulation may prove too big to overcome. According to the Press of Atlantic City, the entire facility is in terrible disrepair.
The clubhouse has structural problems and numerous leaks. There are chunks falling off the exterior of the building. The grandstand is falling apart.
The track itself is not much better. It is uneven and infested with weeds.
At this point, there is no consensus or information about the cost and timing of necessary renovations to the site. The track would need major work, and it’s unclear if the existing clubhouse building is salvageable.
That said, the track is owned by a subsidiary of Greenwood Gaming. Greenwood Gaming also owns five other operational racetracks, including Parx Racing.
So, the resources and expertise for bringing the ACRC back up to par likely exist. It simply remains unclear if there’s enough time to make it happen.
It may be worth it to try, though
However, the profit potential of pristine new markets for NJ sports betting may be difficult to pass up. Even the most conservative estimates place annual New Jersey sports betting revenues at $124 million.
The owners of Atlantic City Race Course would also have the benefit of watching tracks like Monmouth Park iron out the kinks in the system. Much like a golfer putting on his opponent’s line, track management could avoid pitfalls that would cost extra money and time.
Nothing is set, though. Greenwood ACRC has neither announced plans or issued a comment about the idea.
Still, at least one New Jersey assemblyman, Vince Mazzeo, thinks that a multi-use facility at the park is an idea worth exploring. One suspects that track ownership would like its competitors to be the guinea pigs for this experiment first.