All signs point to sports betting coming to New Jersey casinos and racetracks in the very near future.
The state has been trying since 2011 to make it happen. That’s when lawmakers passed a bill seeking to legalize sports betting at racetracks and casinos for the first time. Of course, professional and amateur sports leagues took the state to court and were successful in having the law struck down. But that didn’t stop the state from trying again in 2014.
Lawmakers passed a second bill aimed at legalizing sports betting. The leagues filed another lawsuit, and the courts struck down the NJ sports betting law for the second time. However, after a series of failed appeals, the state was successful in getting the Supreme Court of the United States to hear its case.
PASPA and NJ sports betting
In December, New Jersey presented oral arguments against the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). PASPA is the federal law that makes sports betting illegal everywhere except Nevada. Of course, parlay bets in Delaware and game square wagering in Montana are also exempt. However, it’s PASPA that’s still standing in the way of legal and regulated NJ sports betting.
The thing is, the state presented some pretty strong arguments against what a lot of people believe is an unconstitutional ban on sports betting in the US. As a result, many believe that when the Supreme Court releases its decision sometime this spring or early summer, it will come out on New Jersey’s side.
The road to legal and regulated sports betting in the Garden State will be paved. The question is, where exactly will gamblers be able to place their bets?
New Jersey racetracks
Back in 2014, a sportsbook-style lounge was built at Monmouth Park racetrack in Oceanport. It was supposed to be the first place in New Jersey to take bets. However, the state could never find a court to rule in its favor.
It’s running as a sports bar now. However, the sportsbook at Monmouth Park could very well end up being the first place to take a legal sports bet in the state — even if it’s just for old times’ sake.
In fact, Monmouth Park CEO Dennis Drazin told NJ.com this past November the sports betting lounge, originally set up as a $1 million partnership with the track and British bookmaker William Hill could start taking bets within weeks after the decision.
Plus, he said Monmouth Park has plans to expand the lounge into a full-fledged Las Vegas-style sportsbook before long.
Other horse racing facilities across the state have long sought other sources of revenue to help keep the struggling industry afloat.
The Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford backed a plan by Hard Rock International to build a $1 billion, 650,000-square-foot casino with 200 table games and 5,000 slot machines adjacent to the track in 2015. New Jersey voters said no to expanding casino gaming outside of Atlantic City in a 2016 referendum, killing the casino idea.
However, there’s clearly an interest in increasing gambling revenues at The Big M, and sports betting could be a good start for the facility.
Atlantic City casinos
There are currently seven casinos open and operating in Atlantic City. However, two more closed properties are expected to reopen this summer — Hard Rock AC and Ocean Resort Casino. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see each and every one start taking sports bets as soon as they can.
MGM announced last November it would be building a $7 million sportsbook at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa.
Colorado developer Bruce Deifik is part of the group that is turning the former Revel property into the new Ocean Resort Casino. He announced in January they are making $175 million in improvements before opening in the summer of 2018. Part of that is the construction of a state-of-the-art sportsbook.
Once NJ sports betting actually becomes legal, other casinos are sure to follow.
Smartphones, tablets, and computers
Plus, gamblers may be able to place sports bets from just about anywhere they are inside the state using a smartphone, computer, or tablet connected to the internet.
Sports betting and online gambling laws may have to be tweaked to allow it. However, at least one software provider is anticipating that will be just a formality.
GAN powers the Betfair online casino in New Jersey. It is also getting ready to help launch Ocean Resort Casino’s NJ online casino. Plus, it recently inked a deal with SBTECH to introduce its sports betting technology to GAN’s online gambling platform.
Both sides have indicated they will be ready to take the first legal online sports bets once the market opens.
The Supreme Court has yet to rule in New Jersey’s favor. However, most stakeholders appear to be treating NJ sports betting like a foregone conclusion. The question of where has now been answered. The only question remaining seems to be when exactly the legal and regulated sports betting market will actually open.