Admittedly for the access to live video feeds and race replays as part of my contest preparation, I established an ADW account on 4NJBets a few weeks ago, which went pretty smoothly, outside of the eight-day wait (six business days, though in racing, Saturday and Sunday are the best business days) for my direct deposit to clear the "pending" status. In the era of e-checks, PayPal and online bill paying, this seems a bit long, no? No matter...over the past few days, I dabbled with some minuscule wagers to test how the system runs, and other than the inability to access the live Aqueduct feed, I found the functionality to be sufficient.
|The NJSEA and Trenton...Perfect Together
Anyway, I cite these comparable ADW sites because there are a number of online NHC contests that NJ bettors and contest players alike have zero chance of accessing. Any NHC Tour member or NTRA's email list recipient can attest to the regular bombardment of notices for various contests, and this, combined with my experience with 4NJBets, got me thinking that I'd be a lot better off as a Tour player as a Twinspires.com, TVG or XpressBet account holder (not to mention that these sites often have sign-up bonuses up to $100 and run all sorts of other promotions). To be sure, in a free market, I'd gravitate toward one of (or more than one, depending on the benefits) those sites, as any educated consumer would. But, hey, it wouldn't be New Jersey if not for a complete government-run monopoly or bureaucracy, now would it...
The Twinspires Leaderboard, where 3 NHC seats and a few more to the Coast Casino Horseplayer World Series are up for grabs, began today. The XpressBet Showdown, also for three seats and four more to the lesser-known HWS, kicks off on April 16. Even the Daily Racing Form has thrown its hat into the ring, offering DRF Bets Tournament Leagues from April through June for 3 more seats. Right there, we find 9 seats where Jersey contest players are automatically out of the loop. Seems unfair, right?
Realistically, as a working father with two kids and a lot of obligations outside my weekend handicapping hobby, I have no intention, desire or time to be a part of every single NHC qualifying tournament, but it is becoming clearer to me how many opportunities are entirely out of the mix for resident New Jersey contest players like myself, speculatively on account of the dysfunction of the state's thoroughbred industry and the need to put graft (i.e. union-dominated track jobs, commissioning the former NJSEA chief to conduct an "unbiased" study on Atlantic City, Xanadu, horse racing and the prospects of a Meadowlands casino) ahead of giving the state's horseplayers the best possible product.
Perhaps readers will sense a bit of venting on my behalf here, but this is justified, considering the uncertain ownership and 2011 meeting schedule for Monmouth Park, plus the inability of organized labor at the Meadowlands to recognize that, without a Jeff Gural or complete 180-degree turn by Governor Christie on the North Jersey casino issue, extinction is near. But it's just another example of how the NJ horseplayers are screwed and generally not factored into the equation.
In the meantime, I suppose I should delve more into my handicapping (though there's not a credible open NHC contest in NJ until two months from now), because the opportunities in my state are fewer and more far between than, say, a resident in a state that offers a privately-held ADW that has much better tie-ins to the NHC Tour's 500 championship tournament seats.