Monmouth County would have received something, with an agreed upon, but legislatively unapproved, enabling bill that would have given the park a percentage of revenue and provided some financial support for the county horse breeding and equine industry.“Only in New Jersey would you have a constitutional amendment with a side deal attached to it,” Coffey observed.“It wasn’t the right bill,” Drazin said, acknowledging it became apparent given the polling and the public relations efforts of some groups that it wouldn’t pass. But track operators did eventually support the ballot initiative as they entered into a last minute deal with the prospective Meadowlands casino developer to ensure a specific amount for Monmouth Park.The issue at hand is that Monmouth Park is challenged by surrounding states allowing casino-style gaming at racetracks. That draws the crowds and brings in money which allows those tracks to offer larger purses than Monmouth. And that attracts the higher profile horses and trainers, which in turn attracts a larger number of horseracing enthusiasts.Darby Development has expressed an interest in building other attractions on the track grounds, like an amphitheater for concerts, and a boardwalk area. The track this summer just opened a high-end restaurant, the Blu Grotto, as another attraction. However, the operators stress they would need the gambling revenue to support those new projects. Locally, officials said Monmouth Park could be easily adapted to allowing a casino environment, has beautiful grounds as an added attraction, has its own NJ Transit site and plenty of on-site parking. The referendum didn’t specifically say where the casinos would go if voters approved it, but the likeliest locations would have been at the Meadowlands and Jersey City. There have been discussions with legislators about different bills that would allow different types of gaming at the park, Drazin said. Drazin, however, declined to name those lawmakers at this point, simply saying the bills do seem to have some “bipartisan support.”On another front, New Jersey has been waging a legal battle in federal court, looking to let New Jersey allow sports gambling. That proposal has been successfully blocked in court so far by the efforts of the National Basketball Association (NBA), the National Football League (NFL) and others. Drazin has filed a petition seeking to have the U.S. Supreme Court take up the matter.The nation’s highest court is expected to decide whether to hear it early next year, according to Drazin.Revenue for the 2016 summer racing season was “down,” Drazin acknowledged.“They’re going to go through another season of tightening their belts,” Coffey believed, “in order to provide the best racing programs they can with the limited resources they have.”While it may be lean times for the immediate future, Drazin said he is convinced that “within three to five years” there will be sports betting at the park. And there is no chance that Monmouth Park won’t continue as a premier racetrack. “Not on my watch,” Drazin said.Monmouth Park remains Oceanport’s largest taxpayer and employer. A longer term strategy could be looking to have another ballot referendum, that, instead of allowing for additional casinos, would permit slot machines, something the track operators would support.On Election Day voters decided to fold ‘em and walk away from the table for a state constitutional amendment that would have allowed for two new casinos outside of Atlantic City. Coffey and the Oceanport Borough Council along with some elected officials in Monmouth County voiced opposition to the referendum. Their gripe with it was it was drafted purposely to exclude the county and its racetracks, requiring new casinos to be at least 72 miles away from Atlantic City, in hopes of protecting that struggling city and its gaming industry. Gaming estimates show about 28 percent of Atlantic City casino revenue comes from Monmouth and Ocean counties. By John BurtonOCEANPORT – rejection of last month’s gambling ballot referendum has Monmouth Park supporters continuing to look for ways to maintain the racetrack’s viability.And that viability continues to be seeking alternative gambling options for the track.“Now there’s a chance for a restart,” said Oceanport Mayor John “Jay” Coffey, given the referendum’s Nov. 8 defeat.“Basically, everything that’s out there that would be a revenue builder or alternative gaming is on the table,” said Dennis Drazin, a Red Bank lawyer and advisor to the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and Darby Development, LLC, the operators of Monmouth Park thoroughbred horseracing track.Coffey said this week he’s had “countless conversations with Mr. Drazin regarding the opportunity that can be afforded to Monmouth Park,” looking for alternative means to bolster income for the struggling track.“There are a myriad of possibilities,” Coffey said. Possible gaming opportunities include discussions of being able to install video lottery terminals on the racetrack grounds.That step, both Coffey and Drazin explained, wouldn’t technically require a constitutional amendment or state legislative action. The reason, Coffey noted, is that while the terminals would be in Oceanport, the actual gambling is done in Atlantic City, where gambling is permitted – much like gambling from one’s home computer, wherever home is.“Although, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some challenges,” from special interests looking to block that move, Drazin said.Also under discussion is to establish internet cafes at the track to allow other forms of gaming, such as instant racing video terminals, which offer gamblers a random selection of races. But that would require action on the part of the state Legislature, Drazin said.