Dennis Drazin knows his way around a racetrack. He grew up in Rumson, New Jersey, along the shore, and spent his fair share of days hanging around Monmouth Park, an idyllic stretch of emerald green, Thoroughbred racetrack that turns every wide-eyed kid who sees it into a fan for life. It hooks them before they know any better, before they understand that the green on the track is truly the only color of that shade doing any growing at all.
The horse racing business has been dying for decades, slowly and surely. But that didn't stop Drazin, who graduated from law school in the mid-1970s, from eventually giving the business a go. He became an owner, a breeder, he lobbied for the state's thoroughbred association and, this past May, he became the new boss for his old haunt, Monmouth Park.
Drazin does not bet on sports. "I have a law license," he says. "I don't do anything that is illegal." But, before the year is over, he will become the focal point for the next phase in the battle to legalize sports betting nationwide.
To recap, for those of you who have been ignoring the column for the past few years: In 1993, Congress passed the Professional Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). The bill, spearheaded by New Jersey senator and NBA Hall of Famer, Bill Bradley, banned sports betting nationwide. The exceptions were Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon, states that had pre-existing sports betting laws on the books. Every other state was too late to the counter.