Sports betting begins in New Jersey at Monmouth Park

By: Tom LaMarra

Updated June 14, 2018:

Monmouth Park officials reported that about 1,000 were on hand the morning of June 14 for the launch of sports betting in New Jersey.

Gov. Phil Murphy officially launched sports betting in the state when he placed $20 on Germany to capture the World Cup and a $20 future bet on the New Jersey Devils to win the 2019 Stanley Cup.

Monmouth had 21tellers on hand in its William Hill Sports Book and grandstand to take wagers on various sporting events.

“It’s a historic day for Monmouth Park and for the state of New Jersey,” said Dennis Drazin, Chief Executive Officer of Darby Development, which operates Monmouth on behalf of the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association. “We’ve been fighting this fight for more than six years in the courts and now that this day has arrived, and judging by the response from the fans who turned out for this, it’s exciting. Clearly, it’s something the people of New Jersey have been waiting for.”

Monmouth will be open for sports betting from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Thursday and from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Friday. Sports betting hours will be 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Saturday and 8 a.m. to 1 a.m. on Sundays.

Posted: June 11, 2018

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed a sports betting bill into law June 11, and Monmouth Park indicated it plans to commence wagering on sports June 14.

The New Jersey Racing Commission was scheduled to approve emergency regulations to govern the licensing of sports betting during a meeting earlier in the day, but that meeting is now scheduled for June 13. After the NJRC approves the regulations, Murphy will ratify them and racetracks will be able to apply for a temporary license.

The two houses of the state General Assembly approved the measure—both unanimously—June 7. Murphy was expected to sign the bill immediately, but his office indicated he needed time to review the measure.

That New Jersey has sports betting is largely the result of the efforts of the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, which leases Monmouth from the state, and former governor Chris Christie. The NJTHA and the state both pushed a lengthy legal battle that resulted in the United States Supreme Court overturning the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in May.

“Today is a great day for New Jersey,” said Dennis Drazin, Chief Executive Officer of Dabry Development, which operates Monmouth for the horsemen’s group. “After a thorough review of the legislation, Gov. Murphy has taken decisive and swift action in the best interests of New Jersey’s economy and sports fans across our state.

“I look forward to the governor joining us at Monmouth Park (the morning of June 14) to usher in a new era for New Jersey by placing the first bet.”

Drazin, an attorney and longtime Thoroughbred owner and breeder in New Jersey, opted to wait for Murphy to sign the bill before giving the go-ahead for sports betting, which will be operated by partner William Hill. Monmouth, with a financial advance from the bookmaker, spent about $2.5 million on a sports book and later a renovation of the grandstand to allow for more space.

Monmouth will be the first racetrack in New Jersey to offer sports bets.

“We can now capitalize on the opportunities we worked for with a new sector of sports gaming that will help create jobs, generate economic activity and be an important boost to the state’s casinos and racetracks,” Senate President Stephen Sweeney said in a Twitter post.

The measure has provisions for former racetracks to apply for sports betting licenses, though the language is fuzzy and perhaps prohibitive—it references the “land contained within the racecourse oval” as being eligible for a license.

Atlantic City Race Course, which is still standing but closed, and Garden State Park, now a retail and residential development, qualify under a 15-year live racing provision. But the land within the turf course at ACRC is largely a lake. Most of the land at Garden State Park appears to be developed.

In a release, the governor’s office said licensed casinos and racetracks may accept wagers at a sports wagering lounge at their respective premises, and can petition to operate a sports pool at a temporary facility during the construction of a sports wagering lounge. The entities can seek to operate online sports betting 30 days after the effective date of the bill.

The state Division of Gaming Enforcement and the NJRC can issue emergency regulations for a period of up to 270 days to govern sports betting. The release states that estimated state tax revenue from sports betting in the first year of operation is $13 million.

More on sports betting and its importance to racing at Monmouth Park

(New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, center, and Monmouth CEO Dennis Drazin, far left, at Monmouth Park/Photo by Bill Denver EQUIPHOTO)