The Chief of Staff for District 12 Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande, who sits on the New Jersey Assembly's Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Committee, contacted me this week about the email I sent that encouraged the committee to explore legislation to allow NJ residents to sign up for accounts with out-of-state advanced wagering systems (ADW) that provide customer benefits, especially contests that reward seats to the $2 million annual NHC Tour Championship in Las Vegas. This is an excellent start.
I hope to provide a more-comprehensive update after we speak again on Friday, but my initial reaction is favorable and that Assemblywoman Casagrande and staff are researching and very interested in the issue of whether NJ-based horseplayers would be better served by a third-party outfit like TwinSpires.com, TVG.com or DRF's new online platform.
Such discussion is proving timely in the wake of a press release from Horseplayers Association of North America, which released its 2011 HANA Track Ratings -- evidently uses a proprietary algorithm of some sort to rank the best- to worst-performing North American thoroughbred racing venues.
Monmouth Park jumped to No. 6 overall, presumably on the heels of the 2010 Elite Meet and comparatively low 15% Pick 4 and Pick 5 takeouts that are favorable to horseplayers, while (believe it or not) Atlantic City Race Course ranked No. 12, a spot behind Saratoga (which has a 26% takeout its Pick 3s and 4s). So, contrary to Governor Christie's portrayal of the state's racing product as one bankrupting the state, New Jersey is clearly doing something right to the players' benefit (though not from an ADW perspective)!
Interestingly, a follow-up Monday on the HANA blog to the survey press release addressed some compelling issues pertaining to the ADW market, notably the organization's citation of 7 key value-adds to customers, namely (from my perspective) free past performances, handicapping contests, customer rebates (i.e. lower effective takeout) and choices among competitors -- all items I have addressed in the aforementioned email. Clearly these are area's where 4NJ falls short for the customer, and was the impetus for reaching out to Ms. Casagrande and her colleagues on the State Assembly's gaming commission.
In the meantime, I look forward to continuing the discussion and await some feedback on my Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request with the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority. Stay tuned...