June is beginning to look like the month that’ll see legal sports betting get underway in New Jersey. Lawmakers have said they want to pass legislation setting up basic regulations by June 7th and then let local casinos begin taking bets after that.
Multiple casino properties have made clear their intention to go live as soon as possible. Shortly after the Supreme Court’s decision clearing the way for legal sports betting, Monmouth Park announced Memorial Day as its target date for going live with sports betting. Lawmakers warned the park to hold off just a bit longer to give them time to pass regulatory legislation.
More recently, the new Ocean Resort Casino in Atlantic City said it is targeting June 28th as the day it will commence sports betting provided the needed regulations are in place by then. There are no 100% firm answers yet, but lawmakers have said they want to move quickly on legislation so New Jersey operators can begin taking wagers as soon as possible.
New Jersey’s various casinos and racetracks have reacted differently to the decision, but all sound optimistic regarding sports betting. All indications are that the major players in New Jersey’s legal gambling industry are interested in getting started in the near future.
What Still Needs to Happen
New Jersey has already repealed its own prohibition against sports betting taking place at racetracks and casinos, but lawmakers still need to pass legislation to introduce regulations and taxes. If sports betting were to go live at racetracks and casinos today, it would be completely unregulated.
So, what we’re waiting for now is new legislation to establish regulations. Lawmakers have said they’re working on those regulations now and want to move quickly. Local media reports the New Jersey Senate and Assembly are scheduled to hold a vote on regulations on June 7th.
Once lawmakers settle on a regulatory bill and approve it, the bill will move to the governor’s office for the governor’s signature. Governor Murphy supports sports betting and applauded the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down PASPA. All indications are that Gov. Murphy is eager to sign off on regulations and get the ball moving.
Once the legislation is passed and Gov. Murphy adds his signature, sports betting is a go in New Jersey.
Where Sports Betting Will Take Place
Most Atlantic City casinos and racetracks have indicated a desire to offer sports betting when regulations permit. As long as there are no surprises, the following properties should offer sports betting sooner rather than later.
New Jersey Casinos
All Atlantic City casinos are likely to offer sports betting by the end of this year. Here’s what we know about each casino’s sports wagering plans.
Ocean Resort Casino
The Ocean Resort Casino announced on Tuesday that it has reached an agreement with William Hill US to operate a 7,500 square-foot sportsbook. The casino, formerly the Revel, is slated to reopen on June 28th. If regulations are in place by then, customers should be able to place sports bets beginning opening day.
Bally’s Atlantic City, Caesars Atlantic City and Harrah’s Resort
Caesars Entertainment President Mark Frissora, says the three Caesars properties in Atlantic City are interested in sports betting, but is not yet ready to release details. Here’s what he said after the Supreme Court decision:
“We plan to announce our specific approach to this business as we better understand the opportunities and regulations which evolve from today’s Supreme Court decision.”
Officials with the Borgata said last week they plan to commence sports betting “as soon as regulatory approvals are in place.” The casino already has a race book and says it is finishing plans to revamp that race book to also take sports wagers. According to an Associated Press article, the new sportsbook will be called “The Race & Sports Book.”
Golden Nugget Atlantic City
The Golden Nugget in Atlantic City has already taken important steps to enter the sports betting business. Just two days after the Supreme Court decision, the Golden Nugget announced a partnership with Churchill Downs to offer sports betting and online gambling in New Jersey.
Churchill Downs is best known for its iconic racetrack that hosts the Kentucky Derby each year, but it also runs several casinos and an online horse racing website. With experience in racing betting and taking online wagers, Churchill Downs should be a nice fit for Golden Nugget as it begins taking sports wagers.
According to Forbes, Churchill Downs plans to begin taking sports wagers by the first quarter of 2019.
Resorts Casino Hotel
The Resorts Casino Hotel has not made an official statement on the Supreme Court decision. Last year, Resorts became the first casino in Atlantic City to offer real money daily fantasy sports games to customers. It would be surprising for Resorts Casino Hotel not to take up sports betting at some point considering the casino went out of its way last year to offer fantasy sports.
Tropicana has not yet released any details regarding its plans for sports betting, but is definitely interested. In an e-mail statement sent to reporters shortly after the Supreme Court decision, Tropicana General Manager Steve Callender said:
“We will continue to solidify our plans, and look forward to giving our guests more gaming experiences at Tropicana Atlantic City.”
Hard Rock Casino
The Hard Rock Casino plans to reopen at the site of the former Trump Taj Mahal on June 28th and received its gambling license just days before the Supreme Court sports betting decision. According to NBC Philadelphia, the Hard Rock Casino plans to offer online gambling and sports betting.
New Jersey Racetracks
New Jersey racetracks anticipate being able to join the sports betting movement in New Jersey. A bill already passed in New Jersey specifically repealed the state’s sports betting prohibition at licensed racetracks as well as casinos.
Monmouth Park has made no secret of its desire to begin taking sports wagers. Monmouth Park officials said they would be ready to go by Memorial Day 2018, but Senate President warned them that upcoming regulatory legislation will likely include language stating that any casinos or racetracks that offered sports betting prior to regulations taking effect would be prohibited from taking wagers in the future.
The track has now targeted June 8th as its first day of sports betting, provided regulations are in place by then. In any case, it looks like the track will be ready to accept wagers within one day of the new regulations going live.
Track officials have every reason to be excited to begin taking sports bets. Back in November, Dennis Drazin, head of the management company that runs Monmouth Park, said he believes up to $10 billion a year will be wagered on sports in New Jersey. He said Monmouth Park could realistically account for 10% of that, or $1 billion a year. He further estimated this would yield an additional $75 million per year in gross revenues for the track.
Meadowlands Racetrack owner Jeff Gural is looking forward to offering sports betting. Back in December before the Supreme Court even announced the decision, he said this:
“We invested heavily in this with Monmouth Park sharing the legal fees and it looks like it’s going to pay off. It’s good news. It’s great news, actually.”
He later told Sports Illustrated that their “goal would be to be up and running by the football season.”
Freehold Raceway has not made a lot of noise lately, but management did say it is looking forward to accepting wagers on sports. Chris McErlean, Vice President of Penn National Gaming (which co-owns Freehold Raceway), said sports betting would likely help keep Freehold Raceway in business.
What about online sports betting?
Online sports betting appears likely in New Jersey, although we’ll need to see the final regulations before we have a firm answer on this one. A deal announced between William Hill US and Ocean Resort Casino reportedly includes accommodations for online sports betting. An App.com report detailing the deal said this:
“The sportsbook partnership will also provide New Jersey bettors access to William Hill’s innovative technology, including its mobile and online sports book products.”
There are no indications New Jersey lawmakers plan to stray too far from the current framework already in place for online gaming, which allows land-based casinos to team up with technology providers to offer run online casinos.
Two bills are currently making the rounds in the New Jersey legislature. Both are similar in nature and would allow sports betting to take place at licensed casinos and racetracks in New Jersey. Both bills support mobile or online sports betting.
Given lawmakers’ enthusiasm for sports betting and the state’s successful launch of online gambling, it seems likely we will have legal online sports betting in New Jersey by the end of this year.