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Cherry Hill Developer Loses Court Battle

Cherry Hill Towne Center Partners (CHTP), a developer seeking to build a stand-alone sportsbook on the site of a former racetrack in New Jersey, lost the most recent round in a Camden court battle with the track’s former owners, Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment, Inc.

In an opinion published Sept. 6, a federal judge said that the track’s former owners and operators, Garden State Park Racing (GSPR), likely can prove that a 1999 document gives them exclusive rights to legal sports wagering at the now-defunct racetrack.

New Jersey’s gaming regulations authorize sports betting only at casinos and racetracks, which includes two out-of-business tracks, both Garden State Park and the Atlantic City Raceway.

The 1999 agreement between the two groups prohibited any kind of wagering operation by anyone other than GSPR. CHTCP argued that the agreement is not enforceable because its definition of “wagering” cannot include sports gambling, which was not legal at the time.

Cherry Hill’s Stand-alone Sportsbook on Hold

CHTP said in court documents that it plans to apply for a sports gambling license from the state and has already begun to build a retail sportsbook. The last horse races at Garden State Park were held in 2001 and CHTP began redeveloping the 223-acre site into a mixed-use residential and retail center.

GSPR and its parent company, Greenwood, have sought an injunction from the court to prevent the developer from opening a sportsbook on the site.

Greenwood, which owns Parx Casino in Pennsylvania, also owns the second defunct racetrack in Atlantic City, but has not sought an operator’s license there as of yet. Greenwood also owns off-track betting sites in Philadelphia and Valley Forge, and has launched its own retail and mobile sports betting operations in the Keystone State this year.

In her opinion published on Sept. 4, U.S. District Judge Renee Bumb disagreed with CHTCP, writing that the 1999 document is “unambiguous and not overly broad.”

The covenant can only mean exactly what it says, the judge ruled. Wagering activities of any sort must include sports wagering, because sports wagering is a sort of wagering.

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