The 50th Haskell Day took place at Monmouth Park in New Jersey on Sunday. It was momentous not only because of the anniversary, but it was the first time legal sports betting was available on site.
There is no doubt that expectations were high in anticipation of large crowds and a lot of bets. Looking at the numbers, there is both good and bad news.
The Monmouth Park Sports Book by William Hill reported a total handle (the amount of the bets) of $1,965,661. While impressive at first glance, the figure represents a disappointing 10.8 percent decrease compared to last year’s handle of $2,203,848.
Dennis Drazin, chairman and CEO of Darby Development LLC, which operates Monmouth Park said to App.com:
“You’re never really happy when you’re down from the previous year. The betting number was good. They were strong and healthy. But they were a tick down. But, Good Magic was a heavy favorite, so maybe that accounts for some of the betting. But overall a good day betting.”
As mentioned, there is also some good news. The total handle on Haskell Day races across all sources came in just shy of $13.4 million. That is good for a 5 percent increase over last year’s number, $12.8 million.
Drazin reflects on Haskell Day
“A lot of these great champions come through Monmouth,” said Drazin. “I certainly think if you had Justify against Good Magic there would have been 60,000 people. But given that the Triple Crown winner wasn’t there, the crowd of 37,000 was a good day.
“I think even though going into the race there was that disappointment that we didn’t have the Triple Crown winner, for a while there, Good Magic made you forget about the past season and look forward to the upcoming season. It gives you something to root for.”
Justify became the 13th American Triple Crown winner this year. Drazin hoped to welcome the thoroughbred to Haskell Day. Instead, Justify retired and Good Magic, the Kentucky Derby runner-up, took top billing.
Drazin might think Justify retiring had an impact on the crowd size. However, attendance was up 5 percent this year over last. Haskell Day welcome 37,186 patrons. That number was a 5 percent increase over last year’s crowd of 35,303.
“I think overall, everything went great. I was pleased with the operation and the race, and the weather even cooperated,” Drazin said.
Monmouth Park vs. Meadowlands … Does it even matter?
Monmouth Park might have been the first to offer NJ sports betting, but the field is getting more crowded by the day.
Currently, six casinos and racetracks offer sports betting. Besides Monmouth Park there are:
- Meadowlands Racetrack
- Borgata Atlantic City
- Ocean Resort Casino
- Bally’s Atlantic City
- Harrah’s Atlantic City
Since Meadowlands began offering sports betting, all eyes have been on the two racetracks to see how they are faring.
Football season is just around the corner and sports betting operators have very high expectations.
Meadowlands is located in the Meadowlands Sports Complex, home to the NY Giants and NY Jets. It also happens to be a short 30-minute drive from the New York.
On the surface, it looks like Meadowlands has the advantage headed into fall. However, it has had some operational challenges at the FanDuel Sportsbook at Meadowlands. Things haven’t run as smoothly as it could.
But Monmouth Park keeps surprising everyone. It came out on top regarding handle and revenue during the first few weeks of operation. It also has a reliable partner in William Hill.
The NJ sports betting crowd is going online
It might be a moot point, however. MGM recently announced it would be the first New Jersey operator to accept online sports bets later this week. Online sports betting changes the game.
Everyone has their eye on the prize. That prize is football.
More than likely, MGM’s announcement will light a fire under other operators, and more of them will begin offering online sports bets soon — certainly before the first NFL kickoff.