As Garden State Park prepares to introduce in legalized sports betting at the Cherry Hill racetrack, the mission for its resurgence suddenly faces hindrance.

Despite been authorized to host NJ sports betting, courtesy of legislation signed in June by Gov. Phil Murphy, the New Jersey track continues to hold a 17 year hiatus since staging a horse race.

Cherry Hill Towne Center Partners LLC, the area’s developer, wasted no time came Thursday to file a lawsuit in Camden. Claims state that the gaming firm overstepped its boundaries by blocking Garden State Park’s market penetration.

As they understand, GS Park Racing holds exclusive rights of accepting wagers at the facility since 1999, having restrictive covenants at the track. The confusion lies in the allegements by Cherry Hill Towne Center Partners LLC against those restrictions, emphasizing that the sports betting is “invalid and unenforceable” according to the lawsuit.

Two Sides to the Argument at Garden State Park

Restrictive covenants were obtained by GS Park Racing (GSPR) 2 years before the closure of the Garden State Park racetrack, prohibiting “gaming of any sort… at any time by any party other than (GS Park Racing)”, as the lawsuit states. Previous statements by the gaming company indicate that it will “seek enforcement of the restriction” if any other party engaged in gambling at the property.

On June 22, a letter which was written by Roberta Rivera-Soto, an attorney for GSPR, to the Cherry Hill developer stated:

“GSPR attaches significant importance and value to the rights it holds under the restrictive covenants”.

According to the lawsuit’s statement, when GSPR attained those restrictions, under no circumstances those claims that regulated sports wagering could have been contemplated. In essence, a ban is demanded by the Cherry Hill developer which “doesn’t prohibit the newly permitted sports wagering on the GSP property.

As a “former racetrack” operating within 15 years prior the active date of the original 2014 bill, Garden State Park stands entitled to offer regulated wagering as per the NJ sports betting bill.

Authorizations are on GSP’s hands to accept wagers according to the bill, provided that actions are based on “the land contained within the racecourse oval”.

The lawsuit as it indicates has alternative sides depending where you’d like to look at it, because Cherry Hill Towne Center Partners more willingly aims to have its sportsbook “within the oval of the former Garden State Park racecourse”. On the other hand, claims pertaining to outside the oval, “cannot qualify for use as a sports wagering facility under New Jersey law”.

Consequently, since there’s a lack of expiration and representing “an unreasonable restraint on trade”, GSPR’s restrictive covenants are seemingly deficient.

Garden State Park Racing Refused to Build a Parlour

Originally there were construction plans in place by GS Park Racing of building an off-track betting parlor at the property.

However, those plans seem to be motionless currently to avoid some competition incitement between the firm and it’s Pennsylvania-based parent company, Greenwood Racing, based on the lawsuit.

Being dormant on a project suchlike had led to lawsuit allegements stating that GSPR

“waived or abandoned the protections of the declaration as they have failed to develop any off-track wagering facilities on the (Cherry Hill) property.“

Furthermore, according to the suit, “Neither GSPR nor any of its affiliates has any interest in developing an off-track wagering facility at the (former track) or in the vicinity”.

Lately the area has become home to a variety of stores, restaurants and housing, and becoming a newly-named Towne Place at Garden State Park.

The structure continues to build, in case only GSPR’s ban is lifted for sports betting and Garden State Park ought to roll out its operation, further joining Meadowlands Racetrack and Monmouth Park as the only NJ racetracks to feature regulated sports betting.