Freehold Raceway Finally Enters NJ Mobile Sports Betting Fray

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The Meadowlands Racetrack and Monmouth Park each began offering on-site sports betting within two months of a landmark May 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that invalidated a 26-year-old federal law and opened the door for New Jersey and other states to offer such wagering legally.

But Freehold Raceway, New Jersey’s other remaining racetrack, didn’t join in until last September.

More than 90% of the money wagered on sports in New Jersey takes place online, with sportsbooksFanDuel.com and PointsBet.com partnering with the Meadowlands and William Hill.com/us/nj, playsugarhouse.com, and thescore.bet with Monmouth Park for that wagering. That’s why this week’s news of Freehold finding a mobile partner could be a much bigger long-term story than the opening of that temporary sportsbook at that track.

They come from the land Down Under

The new partner is PlayUp, an Australian-based company which also has been approved to offer such gambling in Colorado.

Freehold is jointly owned by Penn National and Greenwood Racing, with the latter owning Parx Casino and Racing in the Philadelphia suburb of Bensalem in Bucks County.

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“Parx Casino is happy to partner with PlayUp in New Jersey as they debut their international expertise of online sports betting in the United States,” Matthew Cullen, Parx’s senior vice president of interactive gaming and sports, announced in a statement.

Parx also is the brand name of the Freehold brick-and-mortar sportsbook.

The goal of launching “in the first quarter of 2021” likely is tied to getting up and running in time for March Madness, the 68-team NCAA men’s basketball tournament that was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic just days before the opening tipoffs. It is scheduled to resume this year.

Two familiar sports betting names at PlayUp

PlayUp benefits from its appointment last summer of former Sportradar executive Dr. Laila Mintas, a well-known player in the U.S. gaming industry.

The company debuted in 2015 in Australia, which has the highest per-capita affinity for sports betting in the world.

But specific to New Jersey, last month’s appointment of Dennis Drazin to the board is even more of a boost to Freehold.

Drazin’s Darby Development LLC operates Monmouth Park for the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, and he is a former chairman of the state’s racing commission.

Drazin was instrumental in the six-year legal battle to earn Monmouth Park the right to offer sports betting.

Barstool next on tap for Freehold?

The most intriguing potential partner for Freehold — which like the other two state racetracks has three sports betting app platforms, or “skins,” to offer — is the Barstool Sportsbook app, which is part of the Penn National Gaming portfolio.

Barstool launched in Pennsylvania in September, and Penn National CEO Jay Snowden has said that New Jersey would be part of a “second wave of launches” for the once Boston-centric Barstool brand. Snowden also envisions a “traveling wallet” to make it easy for consumers who live and work in New Jersey or Pennsylvania to toggle between each Barstool state-specific betting app as needed.

Freehold has a world of catching up to do, as evidenced by the full-year 2020 revenue figures announced this week by the state Division of Gaming Enforcement.

The Meadowlands Racetrack and its mobile partners produced $206.5 million in sports betting revenue last year — more than all nine Atlantic City casinos and their partners combined — compared to $25.4 million for Monmouth Park.

Freehold, which had its sports betting racetrack-only doors open for the last four months of the year, by comparison produced $292,000 in revenue.

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John Brennan

John Brennan has covered NJ and NY sports business and gaming since 2002 and was a Pulitzer Prize Finalist in 2008, while reporting for The Bergen County Record.

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