By Neil Schulman
Oceanport — The borough has finally learned how much is potentially available in its share of sports wagering at Monmouth Park: $172,000. Now all that remains is getting the funds – which may not be easy.
When sports betting was legalized last year, New Jersey set it up so that host communities where the betting took place, like Oceanport, were entitled to a share of the revenue. But the state was collecting the revenue for later distribution, and for the last several months the borough had been trying, with no success, to find out how much it is due.
At the Oct. 3 meeting, Borough Administrator Donna Phelps said she had finally gotten an answer from the Department of the Treasury. As of Sept. 15, Oceanport’s share was $172,000.
The next challenge will be getting it. There’s a lot which isn’t clear yet.
“I can’t do anything with it until October 15,” Phelps said. That’s when the department publishes the information in the registry, and the money becomes available. It’s possible that there will be more money available than the $172,000 due to extra money coming in since that amount was calculated. But it also isn’t 100 percent clear if all of this is for Oceanport, or if this is a share which both Monmouth County and Oceanport will need to split. Borough officials think this is exclusively their share.
The borough must apply for these funds before January 15, but plans to do so as soon as possible.
Oceanport must specify what it plans to use the funds for to receive them, noted Mayor Jay Coffey. And the borough will only release them for the “betterment of the general public,” he said. It’s a broad term, but the borough needs to justify it as “economic development.”
Councilman Joseph Irace noted that the figure was higher than Oceanport had expected. It was anticipating about $100,000 for the first year of sports betting.
He also said that given the bureaucracy, Oceanport wouldn’t receive the funds quickly.
“I don’t think we’ll even get the money this year.”
Borough resident Mark Patterson had a suggestion on how to spend the funds.
“I know all the emergency services are in need of emergency equipment,” he said. “I might be biased,” he noted, since he belongs to the Oceanport Hook & Ladder Company, but added that the first aid squad and police, as well as both fire companies, could benefit.