Betfair US signed a partnership deal with a pair of racetracks in New Jersey and New Jersey for sportsbook operations. The New Jersey racetrack is Meadowlands in East Rutherford, while the New York racetrack is Tioga Downs. Both gaming venues are owned by Jeff Gural, a 75-year old New York real estate developer who once tried to bring a casino to North Jersey.
While Tioga Downs cannot open a legal sportsbook until the New York state legislature approves such gaming, the Meadowlands racecourse could open a Betfair-operated land-based sportsbook in the near future.
Betfair US is a subsidiary of Paddy Power/Betfair, which recently bought the second-largest US daily fantasy sports site, FanDuel. FanDuel has a database of 6 million American DFS competitors, so it has a large database of US sports enthusiasts willing to spend money on gaming.
Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment Facility
East Rutherford, New Jersey is just across the Hudson River from New York City, so the deal between Meadowlands and Betfair US gives the company access to a greater metropolitan area of more than 20 million Americans.
Meadowlands long was the home of the New York Giants and New York Jets NFL football teams, so it is a well-known destination for New Yorkers interested in sports. Jeff Gural and his partners renovated the Meadowlands area in 2013, in anticipation of one day hosting a major sportsbook on the premises. New Jersey legalized sports betting in 2012, though the state had to fight in US federal courts for 6 years to gain the right to legalize single-game sports betting.
Kip Levin Praises Meadowlands
Kip Levin, CEO of Betfair US, was effusive in his praise of the Gural ownership team. Levin had trouble containing his excitement when he said, “We could not be more excited to partner with Jeff Gural and his partners for sports betting in New Jersey and New York. Meadowlands Racetrack has the potential to be among the best, if not the best, sports betting venues in the US.”
“Combining these premier facilities with the global sports betting prowess of Paddy Power Betfair is a great match and will enable us to bring an unparalleled sports betting experience to customers in the northeast.”
Meadowslands and TVG Network
Jeff Gural, who acts as chairman of New Meadowlands Racetrack LLC and Tioga Downs LLC, similarly praised Betfair. Gural said, “Sports betting is a great opportunity for Meadowlands and Tioga Downs. We went through a diligent process and reviewed several options to provide customers with the best sports betting experience possible.”
Gural noted that his racetracks have a long relationship with one of Betfair’s subsidiaries: TVG Network. The Meadowlands owner mentioned, “In the end, Betfair’s world leading products and experience proved the best choice. We are eager to get started with our partners, with whom we have had a long relationship for racing with TVG, on this exciting venture.”
The TVG Network which Jeff Gural mentioned is an Internet horse and greyhound racing betting business. TVG Network also broadcasts digital cable and satellite broadcasts to American racetracks. Since 2008, Betfair has owned TVG Network.
North Jersey Casino
During the 2016 election cycle, Jeff Gural was one of several gaming executives who backed a North Jersey casino referendum. The bill initiative made it onto the 2016 presidential ballot in New Jersey, but was defeated by a whopping 78% to 22% margin. Undaunted, Jeff Gural said he would pursue a North Jersey casino initiative at a later date. Gural claimed the bill failed for a variety of reasons, including uncertainty about where the two proposed casinos would be placed.
The Meadowlands Racetrack owner, who wanted to bring a land-casino to East Rutherford, said North Jersey residents wanted a casino, but not one in their community. Because of traffic congestion on the commute into New York City, the possibility of a casino in their municipality was too much to ask. Had voters in countless North Jersey cities known where the location was to be, they would have voted differently, according to Gural.
2018 was the first time a new North Jersey casino referendum could be added to a ballot. Given the defeat of the last measure, no New Jersey lawmakers backed such a bill this year. Gural and other gaming operators said they would back a bill at a later date, so 2020 might see a North Jersey casino bill debated once again.
Tioga Downs Racetrack
Jeff Gural has shown persistence and patience in his gaming investors. He reopened the Tioga Downs racetrack in 2005, hoping to one day convert the racetrack into a racino. On two occasions over the years, Jeff Gural failed to gain a casino license to build a slots parlor on the grounds of Tioga Downs.
After New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called for the New York casino siting panel to award a fourth casino license in 2015, Tioga Downs received its long-awaited casino license. These days, Tioga Downs has video lottery terminals (VLTs), a type of slot machine which uses bingo/lottery style game mechanics to award prizes.