Garden State Park Files Plans For A NJ Sportsbook Despite Legal Challenges

Posted on February 10, 2020

Garden State Park Racing (GSPR), the former operators of Garden State Park at Cherry Hill, is back in the news.

According to the Courier-Post, it is seeking final site approval from the township planning board for an off-track betting license that includes a 30,000-square-foot facility.

The request includes “any and all variances that may be required as a result of recommendations or requirements of the board or its professional review staff.”

Its petition to the board comes before a ruling in one of the legal challenges to GSPR’s right to open a New Jersey sports betting facility.

Cherry Hill’s courtroom drama

GSPR is fighting not one, but two companies in its quest to open a sportsbook at Garden State Park.

It is battling the developer of Cherry Hill Towne Center, the location where GSPR wants to open its book.

The center is preparing to open its own sports betting site in Towne Place at Garden State Park.

Last fall, GSPR sought an injunction against Cherry Hill’s development plans claiming a restrictive covenant bans betting “by any party other than” the ownership group.

US District Judge Renee Bumb indicated last fall that GSPR “will likely prevail on its position.”

While the injunction was denied, the statement from Bumb could be a positive sign.

Unfortunately, GSPR’s legal woes don’t end there.

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Garden State Park faces more legal challenges

The Greenwood ACRA, the owner of the Atlantic City racecourse, is fighting against the opening of any sportsbook in Cherry Hill.

Besides gambling at Atlantic City casinos and New Jersey racetracks, the law states gambling can occur at shuttered tracks as long as the activity is within the original racing oval.

There are two shuttered racetracks in the Garden State:

  • Garden State Park
  • Atlantic City Raceway

GSPR believes New Jersey law gives it the right to operate gambling activities on the site of the former track.

Greenwood contends the law does not specifically mention sports betting and, therefore, the petition should be denied.

We should note that the covenant was established in 1999, well before PASPA being overturned, which led to the legalization of sports betting in New Jersey.

Greenwood’s position is likely motivated by Garden State Park’s proximity to Parx Casino. The Greenwood-owned Pennsylvania casino is a short 30-minute drive from the former track.

Will Garden State Park get its NJ sportsbook?

It seems as if the momentum for a sportsbook is in GSPR’s favor. At least for now.

However, there is one technicality that may stand in the way of the Cherry Hill sportsbook.

As mentioned, gambling activity must take place inside the original racing oval. However, GSPR wants to place the building on the vacant land it owns that is adjacent to the oval.

Without the injunction in place, Cherry Hill is moving forward with its plans, in theory. To date, there has been little activity at its proposed location.

Now, it appears GSPR does not want to sit idly by waiting for the court proceedings to play out.

The planning board is scheduled to hear its proposal on Feb. 18, ahead of the March 6 status conference in the Cherry Hill Towne Center court case.

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Kim Yuhl

Kim Yuhl is a freelance writer and blogger who writes about poker culture and the online gambling industry. A part-time member of the poker media since 2013, Kim recently sold her marketing business to write full-time while exploring the world.

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