- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 31, 2016

OCEANPORT, N.J. (AP) - It was a rough Memorial Day weekend for Monmouth Park.

The Asbury Park Press reports (https://on.app.com/280cqLk) that attendance and wagering were down big at the Oceanport racetrack over the three-day holiday weekend compared to last year.

Monmouth Park held live racing from Saturday through Monday and again hosted the Jersey Shore Food Truck Festival this year, but attendance was down to approximately 42,000. Last year, attendance was more than 60,000.

Bettors wagered $2,264,176 at the track last year. But on-track handle fell to $1,519,687 this season, a decrease of 32.8 percent.

With Monmouth Park getting around 20 cents on every dollar wagered on-site, that means the track saw about $149,000 less in revenue this year.

There was $7,752,605 bet on races at Monmouth Park from bettors across the country this year. That’s down from more than $15 million last year.

Monmouth Park adviser Dennis Drazin says the decision not to allow a casino there and a shortage of horses in the Mid-Atlantic region is hurting the track, which is hosting a 57-day meet this year with live racing held on weekends and holidays. The track held a similar 58-day meet last year.

“There’s a horse shortage; all tracks are suffering the same things we are right now,” Drazin said. “The future is a circuit where we’re not all running against each other and all the tracks are better off. The tracks in the Mid-Atlantic region need to figure out a way to share the horse colony.”

Attendance and betting have fallen at New Jersey’s racetracks in recent years, and many officials and some lawmakers have strongly supported calls to add casinos and other expanded gambling opportunities.

Monmouth Park also has been very involved in efforts to bring legal sports betting to New Jersey. But the state’s efforts have been stymied by a 1992 federal law that restricted sports betting to Nevada, the only state to allow betting on individual games, and three others that had approved limited multigame parlay pools.

Sports betting also has been strongly opposed by the four major professional sports leagues and the NCAA, who feel it would damage the integrity of the games and lead to a higher incidence of game-fixing.

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