WYOMISSING, Pa. and CAMDEN COUNTY, N.J. — Penn National Gaming Inc. has filed suit in Camden County, N.J., to force its joint venture partner in Freehold Raceway – Greenwood Racing Inc. – to compel development of an off-track wagering (OTW) location in that county.
OTW was approved in the State of New Jersey in 2001 and through a statutory “participation agreement” with the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority, Pennwood Racing Inc., (the parent company of Freehold Raceway – Pennwood), a joint venture of Penn National Gaming and Greenwood Racing, was granted the right to develop up to four OTWs in South and Central New Jersey, including Camden County. The partnership opened an OTW in Toms River in April 2008 and since opening, the facility, which employs 43 people, has generated over $40 million in annual wagering. The Toms River facility is one of three OTWs currently operating in the state.
The eight count lawsuit cites multiple breaches of fiduciary duty by the three appointed Greenwood Racing directors who sit on the Pennwood Racing board as well as anti-trust claims under federal and state laws. Penn National Gaming claims that since 2003, Greenwood Racing’s appointed board members for Pennwood have used multiple delay tactics culminating in an outright refusal to develop an OTW in Camden County. Penn National believes the reason for these actions is based on Greenwood Racing’s ownership of OTW locations in and around Philadelphia and in Vineland, N.J.
Eric Schippers, senior vice president of public affairs for Penn National Gaming, said, “Greenwood has consistently worked to delay and ultimately kill a project that they knew would compete against their wholly owned OTWs. As a result of their selfish actions, the State of New Jersey and Camden County have been denied important new tax revenues and the creation of new local jobs and economic development while New Jersey’s struggling horse racing industry is missing out on potential new revenue.”
Penn National is seeking an award of damages, which could be trebled under the anti-trust laws, as well as injunctive relief directing Greenwood Racing directors to consent to the proposal to develop a Camden County OTW.