There's no need to go into a long recap of my disdain for 4NJBets.com, which may work well for the average horseplayer but, since its creation in 2004, lacks any value for an NHC Tour player like me.
In short, I (and all NJ residents) am prohibited by law from playing in contests run by out-of-state ADW operators like TwinSpires.com and DRFBets.com that offer NHC berths. I have long written for change.
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The Tea Leaves
Starting from unsolicited and unfounded rumors from several friends in the blogosphere about U.K. Betfair-owned TVG taking the reins from 4NJBets.com, I did some digging and uncovered two pertinent documents.
The first is the minutes of the November 30, 2012 telephonic meeting (interesting choice of technology for a public meeting) of the New Jersey Racing Commission (NJRC). Four references to TVG, which has its own ADW service and television network, pique my interest.
Try to Follow Along
Evidently, the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority's (NJSEA) turnover of the operations of Monmouth Park in 2012 to privately-held Darby Development LLC will now extend to the day-to-day management of 4NJBets and empower Darby to solicit bids from parties interested in operating NJ's ADW platform.
Two such parties named in the minutes were TVG and Sportech, the British gambling company that inherited the 4NJBets contract via its 2010 acquisition of Scientific Games.
Despite objections-turned-allegations by the attorney representing Sportech that Darby circumvented state laws governing public bids (starting at "Gil Brooks," pg. 10) , NJRC Executive Director Frank Zanzuckki confirmed the Commission's unanimous approval for the turnover of 4NJBets (and its employees) to Darby, with several seemingly easy-to-meet conditions.
Meanwhile, on February 4, 2013, New Jersey's Assembly voted unanimously on a measure (A-2914) to allow -- get this -- "state residents who are outside New Jersey to place wagers on horse races using the account wagering system."
This approval came a week after Governor Christie signed a law letting bettors use their mobile devices to place wagers (but only at approved betting facilities).
On the surface, I failed to recognize the benefit of the mobile on-track betting law or A-2914 to either the horse's throughbred racing industry or horseplayers, but had an epiphany after reviewing them in the context of the NJRC meeting minutes: NJ residents may soon get to use an outside ADW, like a TVG.
This is merely speculative, but I am guessing that these measures, when taken together with the NJRC's decision, will clear the way for Darby to hire an outside operator like TVG or TwinSpires to either take over or entirely replace the 4NJBets architecture with its own proprietary wagering system.
In my view, this would mark significant progress for NHC Tour members living in New Jersey. Current 4NJBets account holders may disagree, but that's not my concern.
Take an email this evening that I received from Michele Ravencraft, who oversees the NHC program for the NTRA, highlighting an event called the Keeneland Grade One Gamble.
The Grade One Gamble, to be held during the spring meeting at Keeneland in April, is a big-money tournament limited to 55 entrants; 41 will pay $3,000 to enter, while the other 14 entrants will be reserved for TVG account holders through internal qualifying on TVG (see Rules). The top five finishers at the Grade One Gamble will win spots to the 2014 NHC.
Normally, I would automatically trash such an email, since 4NJBets never offers that kind of NHC-based tournament access of other ADWs. In light of recent developments in Trenton, however, I will save that one for future reference in the event that Darby picks TVG to offer wagering services.
I'll also keep my eye open for any new developments with NJRC or the NJ Legislature.
In the meantime, feel free to share any discoveries or observations in the comment field below.