Racetrack Chairman says sports betting not enough to save finances

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EAST RUTHERFORD -

The chairman of the Meadowlands Racetrack says that he is not sure if sports gambling will solve all of the track’s financial problems, but he says that it is a start.

“I feel like the guy who was on death row whose lawyer walked in and said, ‘The Supreme Court just vacated your sentence,’” says Jeff Gural.

Gural says that the racetrack has been losing millions of dollars a year. He says that he hopes that the recently lifted ban on sports wagering will help with the finances, especially if New York fails to pass a similar law. He says that this would make the Meadowlands the exclusive spot around New York City and northern New Jersey for sports gambling.

But Gural does say that he fears that next year will only be good for betting on professional sport games. He says that there is not enough prize money to attract horses for live competition.

Last year, Pennsylvania poured more than $200 million in tax dollars into horse racing. Then former Gov. Chris Christi stopped subsidizing the industry.

Gural says that he wants some of that revenue back, some $30 million a year.

“Is it OK to basically take harness racing and make the Meadowlands a minor league racetrack?” Gural asks.

The Meadowlands currently hosts the million-dollar Hambletonian race and the track will also benefit from a new sponsorship deal. Pending government approval of a merger between online gambling company Betfair and fantasy sports company FanDuel, the Meadowlands Racetrack will get a new sports wagering lounge, the FanDuel Sportsbook at Victory bar.

Gural says that he also hopes to work with his NFL neighbors, the New York Giants and Jets.

"This is going to make sports unbelievably more popular. We’ve just increased the value of every team, even though they stupidly opposed it,” he says.

Gural says that the Meadowlands should be ready to take sports bets by next month. Online gambling should be ready by football season, he says.

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