The legalization of sports wagering in New Jersey has triggered a court battle over efforts to open a betting facility at the former Garden State Park racetrack in Cherry Hill.

Garden State Park, where horse racing ended in 2001, is one of five sites in New Jersey, outside Atlantic City, that are permitted to host sports wagering under state law. Plaintiff Cherry Hill Towne Center Partners, the owner of a parcel at Garden State Park that includes the former racetrack oval, seeks to establish an off-track horse wagering facility, sports betting site, or both. But a 1999 restrictive covenant forbids simulcasting, off-track betting or any other wagering run by anyone other than defendant GS Park Racing.

After New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation allowing wagering on professional and college sports, the attorney who is representing Garden State Park Racing wrote that any party other than Garden State Park Racing is prohibited from conducting "wagering of any sort at the site."

"[Garden State Park Racing] attaches significant importance and value to the rights it holds under the restrictive covenants," said Roberto Rivera-Soto, an attorney in Ballard Spahr's New Jersey office.

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