Thursday, May 31, 2012

"Let's leave New Jersey out of this..."

Another weekend of handicapping contest action fast approaches, and I'm excitedly gearing up for Sunday's Monmouth-Woodbine Challenge at Monmouth Park.

On the other hand, being a New Jersey resident eliminates me and other Garden Staters from yet another avenue to National Handicapping Championship XIV qualification -- Saturday's TVG NHC Qualifier.

Unlike years past, where TVG sponsored NHC-focused contests even for viewers without wagering accounts, Saturday's event is strictly for TVG account holders. I understand the logic to a degree, but as a subscriber to TVG's television coverage (through Verizon FiOS) I feel a bit short changed, since in some way I am paying for at least a portion of TVG's product.

"...that's what the Constitution
 should have said."
Accordingly, I'd argue that TVG should relax entry standards and let subscribers (specifically, NHC Tour members) to its TV coverage play on Saturday and represent "Team TVG" at NHC XIV.  New Jerseyans' lone barrier to TVG account ownership, anyway, is the State Legislature, by handcuffing residents to the state-run Advanced Deposit Wagering site,

NJ Horseplayer has long beaten up on as a Cold War-era ADW, especially when rivals TVG, and (legally off limits to all New Jerseyans) offer NHC XIV seats left and right.  Compounding the discouragement is a posting on the NHC Tour website, touting the 114 seats to Las Vegas offered through the 2012 TwinSpires Online Handicapping Series.  In other words, I and other NJ-based NHC Tour players are already shut out of 23% of the available seats to Las Vegas.  This is patently unfair.

I am not entirely sure how to go about initiating changes, though as an NHC Tour member I would argue that, for my $50 annual membership fee, the Tour should lobby to include in any NHC-based online tournament Tour members outlawed from using an out-of-state ADW.  I should not be penalized because my legislators have no clue about the NHC Tour.

Meanwhile, as new operators of Monmouth Park, I argue that the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association (NJTHA) should lobby the Legislature to embrace an open-market strategy and let NJ residents use outside ADWs, going so far as to shut 4NJBets.  Fat chance, in all likelihood, if you can follow the bouncing ball...

In true NJ fashion (insert your own Fred Armisen-as-Governor Paterson joke here), however, the New Jersey Racing Commission (NJRC) pulls the strings, and I doubt highly would strip the NJ Sports and Exposition Authority and NJSEA's partner Pennwood Racing (itself a convoluted partnership between Penn National and an outfit called Greenwood Racing, which owns PARX and Atlantic City Race Course) of control of its ADW license (see item No. 4 of NJRC's conditional approval of NJTHA assuming control of the racing programs at the Meadowlands and Monmouth Park).  That would be political suicide for someone and a loss of politically-appointed or well-connected jobs, I'm sure, though I'm not quite sure why the Horsemen, if they're sincerely in business to turn a profit running NJ's two primary tracks, would concede ADW revenue to NJSEA and two Pennsylvania-based racetrack operators when they should be able to go out on their own and align with any ADW that generates more revenue for NJTHA and improves New Jersey's thoroughbred racing program!

If anyone has an opinion or can enlighten me as misinformed, I'm all ears.

In the meantime, I'm curious to see whether any other NJ-based horseplayers who belong to the NHC Tour are as frustrated about being left out of so many NHC tournament opportunities, apparently on account of shady politics or general indifference.  Since the NJRC hosts its meetings during regular business hours and I cannot attend the next scheduled meeting on Wednesday, June 20 at 1 p.m., at the least I plan on initiating a letter-writing campaign to NJRC chief Frank Zanzuccki, and maybe asking the organizers of Sunday's contest at Monmouth about getting the ear of NJTHA officials, whose responsibility should also include looking out for the interests of all New Jersey-based horseplayers.


  1. Yes I got all excited when I saw the TVG tourn.
    I live too close to Philly PARX and I can't get in either....unreal. I won a seat through them in December last year as it was open to all!

  2. JPM, what does your proximity to PARX have to do with TVG contest eligibility? I thought PA was a TVG state? That sucks that you cannot participate. They should have spots for return champions, at the least ;)

  3. The Monmouth contest brochure says Mth-WO only, but I see on the little blurb on the site that leads you to the brochure, Belmont as well. I'd guess that the brochure is correct.

    Was Monmouth Park involved with the Facebook IPO?

  4. Good catch, Red Rock. I'd rather it be two tracks only...less homework. For the time being, I removed the Belmont reference from the lead paragraph of today's blog. I'll assume the brochure (not the MP website) is more accurate.

    And my condolences if you got involved in that Facebook mess...

  5. No, we live too close and have to use phonebet. I immediately
    get a message from Harrah's Chester when I try to go into "We regret to inform you that account wagering on this site has been suspended"
    Won't let me set up an account.

    1. That's just wrong...but, hey, you're a stone's throw from top-flight 1/2-mile oval harness action, right?!

  6. I'm with you on this ADW blockage. Very frustrating not being able to participate on sites like Twinspires and DRF. But knowing how long it took Jersey to set up ADW's and OTW sites after it was approved I'm not holding my breathe for any change to come about anytime soon.

    1. Seriously, the ADW's a relatively new creation? Even if so, time to write it off as a sunken cost and give the state's customers a better product elsewhere. I bet they'd save a ton of money that way.