Friday, April 1, 2011

NJ-based NHC Tour players at a disadvantage on-line

Correct me if I'm wrong, but as an NHC Tour member I find New Jersey contest players at a huge disadvantage and cut off from a number of seats from the $2 million tournament championship on account of the archaic state mandates that Garden State players can only wager online via the state's proprietary Advanced Deposit Wagering (ADW) site  My explanation is circuitous, but follow along.

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
Curious about the lag time in the money transfer versus other services, I contacted TVG and, inquiring about their platforms, which no doubt seemed much more user friendlier; no surprise, as we in NJ are quite familiar with red tape.  The quick-responding customer relations agent from TVG responded: "when you use your checking account to deposit funds go in your account right away...we give the funds immediately as a courtesy to our customers", while Michelle Foley of "when a customer sets up (the company's proprietary) EZMoney (account) and does a deposit, the funds are available in the wagering account to be used immediately."  The only time there is a lag is on the withdrawal process, whereby there is a 3- to 5-day clearing period.  Sounds simple enough, and these commercially run entities seem to recognize that, without the customer, there's no ADW service. (NJ, take notes.)

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, 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.


  1. I couldn't agree with you more. I was trying to plan out my NHC schedule for the summer and found that there wasn't an NHC event that we could play in NJ until May... very disappointing. 4njbets has been notoriously down at peak times (Breeders' Cup) and I have found to not always work so well.

  2. From what I gather, some of that has to do with the cost for the tracks to "buy" the seats for the NHC tournament, which is why you might see MP team up with a Woodbine or a Canterbury, or why the HWS is offered instead as a prize. It's not the fault of the people who work there, but rather the dysfunction of the state's view of horse racing. In light of that, it'd DEFINITELY be nice to get in on some of the online action, and much of it simply is not available to us because of the ADW restrictions.

  3. Thanks, Knight. I think it's an utter shame how the idea of "customer focus" is entirely lost on the Authority. Then, Christie brings in an ex-leader of the broken system to figure out how to fix the system. I say blow it up and start anew.