Could Freehold Raceway Add NJ Sports Betting By NFL Season?

Posted By Bill Gelman on March 10, 2020

Freehold Raceway is the lone remaining operational racetrack sitting on the NJ sports betting sidelines.

But that status is likely changing at some point this year.

The Monmouth County-based facility is moving forward with its plans. Last week, the Freehold Borough Council unanimously approved a resolution supporting its application to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) for a sports wagering license.

An article in the Asbury Park Press provided an update on Freehold’s plans.

Call it the first step in the process. In the article, Steve Gallo, the Freehold Borough administrator, explained that the early plans do not call for a major overhaul.

“What we have is a very preliminary two-page document that states their plan is to do some renovations within the envelope of the existing structure. They’re not adding anything new. It’s not going to trigger any major land-use application or anything like that, and this is their first step toward getting a license from the DGE.”

Freehold + potential NJ sports betting partners

Penn National Gaming and Greenwood Racing own the racetrack.

Play NJ reached out to Penn National for comment about its sportsbook plans, but the company is not sharing details quite yet.

We know a launch by March Madness betting is unrealistic.

The NFL regular season opens on Sept. 10, so there is more than enough time to at least set up a temporary location. But nothing can be done until the DGE approves Freehold’s application.

Should things go according to plan, one scenario is that Penn National will launch a sportsbook from Barstool Sports.

Earlier this year, Penn announced it had acquired a 36% stake in the controversial media outlet. Plus, the Garden State is a highly desired market for mobile sports betting operators.

In January alone, NJ sports betting revenue was $53.6 million, of which $46.6 million came via online.

Greenwood Racing, the owner of Parx Casino in neighboring Pennsylvania, has yet to launch its sportsbook app in New Jersey. The online casino operates under the Ocean Casino license.

Penn National also has sports betting deals with these companies:

They all operate in New Jersey with separate land-based partners.

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Will the delay impact Freehold’s success?

Back in June 2018, NJ sports betting history was made at nearby Monmouth Park. It is where Gov. Phil Murphy made the state’s first legal wager at William Hill NJ.

And since that wager, the racetrack has filled all three of its allotted skins.

TheScore Bet and SugarHouse Sportsbook are the others.

If and when it opens, Freehold would be the 11th retail sports betting location. Currently, there are 17 NJ mobile apps, and there is the possibility of more launching.

While the other locations and platforms have established customer bases, the market is not slowing down. The 2019 handle of $4.5 billion serves as proof.

At the same time, sports wagering will bring new life to the facility that has been around since 1853. Besides harness racing, it could be the future home for NFL betting and much more.

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Bill Gelman

Bill Gelman is a veteran sports writer based just outside of Philadelphia and not too far from the Jersey Shore. Bill spends time in Atlantic City writing about casino openings and expansions, special events and now NJ sports betting and online gambling.

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