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DOVER TWP., NJ-Pennwood Racing Inc. has rolled out a plan to turn a vacant Grand Union supermarket here into an OTB parlor. If approved, it would likely be the third of 15 such facilities authorized by state law. As reported by GlobeSt.com, the initial site is fully approved in Vineland and expected to open in early 2007, and a proposal is on the table to turn a vacant supermarket in Woodbridge into the second location.

Pennwood Racing, which unveiled its plans before the New Jersey Racing Commission this week, is a joint venture between Freehold Raceway Off-Track LLC and Freehold Raceway co-owners Greenwood Racing and Penn National Gaming Inc. Their plan calls for turning the 25,000-sf vacant supermarket building at 1071 Route 37 West into a 759-seat wagering facility that would include a restaurant and bar and a 215-car parking lot.

Called the Favorites at Toms River, “it will be a first-class operation,” Donald Codey, president of Freehold Raceway, told the Racing Commission this week. “The facility’s interior will have granite, marble and wood finishes, and carpeting,” said Codey, who’s the brother of State Senate President and former Gov. Richard Codey. The facility will also have more than 60 surveillance cameras.

The Favorites at Toms River is projected to generate upwards of $40 million in revenue per year, Hal Handel, CEO of the Wyomissing, PA-based Greenwood Racing told the Racing Commission. Under the terms of the enabling legislation for the 15 OTB parlors, which the legislature approved in 2001, a portion of those revenues must be distributed to the state’s racetracks and horse breeding industry. Based on the projected $40 million in revenues, about $2 million would go for purse money at Freehold Raceway, Monmouth Park and the Meadowlands. Breeding facilities would stand to get upwards of $400,000.

Greenwood and Penn National already operate a half-dozen OTB sites in Pennsylvania. Besides Freehold Raceway in Freehold, Greenwood owns Philadelphia Park and Penn National owns the racetrack of the same name.

By law, the New Jersey Racing Commission is required to make its recommendation on the proposal within the next 60 days. That recommendation would be sent to the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office for final action. The facility, the cost of which has not been disclosed, must also receive local approval.

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