Meadowlands Racetrack in New Jersey and daily fantasy site FanDuel are now officially in the sports betting business as of this weekend. On Saturday, Meadowlands began taking sports wagers just a stone’s throw away from New York City in East Rutherford.
Yesterday, Meadowlands Racetrack announced on Twitter that the sportsbook is now officially open for business:
— Meadowlands Racing (@TheMeadowlands) July 14, 2018
Former Senator Ray Lesniak, who played an instrumental role in successfully challenging the federal sports betting prohibition, had the honors of placing the first sports bets at Meadowlands. It is said he bet on France to win the World Cup and the New York Giants to win the Super Bowl. If that is indeed the case, we know today that the first bet ever placed and settled at Meadowlands was a winner.
A piece from NorthJersey.com describes the Victory Sports Bar at Meadowlands “as basically a large sports bar with 10 big display screens.” ESPN’s Darren Rovell described the new sportsbook as “by far the best looking sportsbook” to open in New Jersey or Delaware since the Supreme Court ruling:
The new @fanduel sportsbook, opening today, at the Meadowlands is by far the best looking sportsbook that has opened in New Jersey or Delaware since those states were allowed to take sports bets. pic.twitter.com/mcVbpIXqoZ
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) July 14, 2018
Online sports betting is also in the works for Meadowlands. When, exactly, that will happen remains to be seen, but officials have confirmed they are looking forward to taking mobile wagers in New Jersey.
Meadowlands Positioned to Benefit from New York’s Inaction
Meadowlands Racetrack is the fourth sportsbook to open for business in New Jersey since the Supreme Court overturned the federal sports betting prohibition. Meadowlands now joins Monmouth Park, the Borgata and Ocean Resort in taking sports wagers.
NJ sports betting has been live since Monmouth Park and the Borgata opened their sportsbooks on June 14th. Ocean Resort joined the fray on June 28th. Those three betting sites took in a total of $16.4 million in wagers last month despite being open for a part of the month.
Competition is starting to heat up in the New Jersey sports betting market, but Meadowlands Racetrack has one key advantage for now: proximity to New York City. Meadowlands Racetrack is located in the same sports complex that hosts the New York Giants and New York Jets and sits just six miles from New York City.
Meadowlands owner Jeff Gural wasn’t shy about expressing his excitement for the prospect of taking wagers from New Yorkers when discussing the track’s plans last month:
“New York did me such a favor by not passing sports betting. That leaves me the entirety of New York City, Long Island, Westchester County. There are 15 million people that live within 20 miles of the Meadowlands. They gave me a tremendous gift.”
Lawmakers in New York attempted to pass sports betting legislation last month, but failed to get it done before the end of the legislative session. The issue will likely be revisited when the legislature convenes in January. For now, Meadowlands will happily serve as the closest legal sportsbook for millions of New Yorkers.
A New Day for FanDuel
FanDuel, one of the two largest daily fantasy sites, has officially begun its shift to actual sports betting. The FanDuel Group will operate the sportsbook at Meadowlands and has big plans to offer customers a wide variety of bet types across all major sports.
In addition to taking traditional pre-game wagers, FanDuel Sportsbook at Meadowlands also has plans to offer in-game wagers once mobile betting is up and running. Here’s Jeff Gural on in-play betting according to NBC New York:
“You’re going to be able to bet on a baseball game and bet on every pitch.” And in football, “you can bet on whether the field goal kicker will make it or miss.”
This marks a drastic turn for FanDuel, which in years past insisted its business model was nothing like traditional gambling as it lobbied for legal daily fantasy sports in various states. Now, FanDuel is changing direction and entering a related but still significantly different industry.
FanDuel recently reached an agreement with international gaming giant Paddy Power Betfair to combine their US-focused businesses. Under the agreement, Betfair US has taken a majority share of FanDuel with options to increase that share in the future. The deal serves as an entry point for Paddy Power Betfair into the US market while also providing FanDuel with an experienced sports betting partner.
This is not FanDuel’s only move into sports betting in recent times. Just last month, FanDuel reached an agreement with the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia to operate real-world and online betting there. An exact timeline on when the West Virginia operation will go live has not yet been revealed, but FanDuel CEO Matt King said they want to be ready to go in time for the upcoming NFL season.