Monmouth Park NJ Plan for More VIP Chopper Flights To Sportsbook Fails to Take Off

Posted on: September 14, 2019, 03:00h. 

Last updated on: September 13, 2019, 12:09h.

A plan to bring sports-betting high rollers to New Jersey racetrack Monmouth Park didn’t fly with the Oceanport Borough Council, which rejected the proposal by a 6-0 vote last month, The Asbury Park Press reports.

Monmouth Park
Dennis Drazin of Darby Development at the launch of sports betting at Monmouth Park last year. Drazin said he could appeal the council’s decision, but would prefer to be a good neighbor to Oceanport residents. (Image: Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO)

Dennis Drazen, the chairman and CEO of Monmouth Park operator Darby Development, probably wishes he’d kept his mouth shut, because the council now wants to impose tighter controls on the racetrack’s helicopter usage.

Following Drazen’s request – and having heard local residents’ views on the matter – the council plans to establish a system of counting the amount of flights coming in and out of the racetrack.

Monmouth Park is capped at ten flights a year, per a 1998 agreement with the state Department of Transportation. And while there’s no suggestion the racetrack has ever willfully exceeded its quota, the council has realized it would have no way of knowing either way, other than taking the track’s word for it.

Fines Threatened

As well as monitoring the skies for choppers, Councilman Robert Proto wants the track to notify the town in advance of any planned flights. Failure to do would result in a fine of up to $5,000, while exceeding the annual flight quota would generate further financial penalties.

Drazin told the APP he had hoped the council might see things his way because the town of Oceanport would stand to benefit from added revenue. But residents cited concerns about noise pollution and decreased property values.

Drazin could appeal the council’s decision to the state, but told the APP he would rather be a “good neighbor.”

Money Troubles

Monmouth Park, like many racetracks across America, has struggled financially in recent years, particularly after New Jersey’s former Republican governor Chris Christie eliminated the racing industry subsidy back in 2012.

The subsidy was drawn from taxes paid by Atlantic City casinos. But the casinos themselves were struggling to recover from the recession and needed a tax break of their own.

But now, things are looking up. Sports betting is legal and in February, Governor Phil Murphy signed a bill into law that restores the subsidy, which is worth $100 million to the racing industry over the next five years. Monmouth Park will receive $10 million per year from the new fund.

The track was a prominent campaigner in New Jersey’s years-long battle for legal sports betting. It would have launched its William Hill sports book in 2014, after the state decriminalized wagering, had a court injunction sought by the sports leagues not banned it from doing so.

Last year, the track sued the leagues, claiming their efforts to block sports betting had cost it at least $130 million in lost revenues and “almost put it out of business” — at a time the leagues themselves were profiting from promotional deals with daily fantasy sports sites.

The case was dismissed in November last year and is currently under consideration by an appellate court.