New Jersey racetrack volunteers to open first sportsbook to provoke fed response

TAGs: monmouth park, New Jersey Online Gambling, PASPA

new-jersey-racetrack-first-sportsbookOn Monday, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement published its proposed regulations for the state’s recently passed sports betting legislation. State residents will have 60 days in which to comment on the proposed regs. The current plan is for over the counter betting only via Atlantic City casinos or the state’s horse racing tracks – no online or mobile wagering. Application fees will cost $50k, plus another $50k every fifth anniversary of the initial issue.

Sportsbooks will be allowed to accept ‘layoff wagers’ from other books, but these are not to be reflected in gross revenue calculations. Slot machines will not be permitted in the sportsbook areas of any gaming facilities. Wagers have to be made in cash, or, if authorized by the Division, vouchers and gaming chips. Wagers will not be permitted on games/contests that take place in New Jersey or in which New Jersey college teams are playing. The Division says the addition of sports betting to New Jersey “will generate significant patron interest” but is “not anticipated to have any social impact.”

Despite the regulations’ publication, cash-strapped AC casinos remain bearish on the merits of going to the expense of opening a sportsbook when doing so will likely provoke federal authorities into immediately shutting it down. While Gov. Christie wants to provoke the feds into just such an action so he can challenge the PASPA sports betting prohibition in federal court, he hasn’t yet offered to subsidize any casino’s construction of such a facility. However, that problem may have been solved now that the operator of Monmouth Park racetrack has stepped up to the plate.

On Tuesday, Dennis Drazin, part of the team that assumed control of the formerly state-owned Monmouth in May, told “We’re the only ones who appear willing to go forward right now. Everyone else wants to wait and see how it plays out. I’m not convinced that the NFL or the federal government will try and stop me, but we also have to anticipate that there may be an attempt for an injunction. If there is, though, my way of combating that would be to go right back at the NFL. It seems like they’re always talking about betting lines on football shows on TV, so the NFL is hypocritical about opposing legal sports betting here.”

Drazin may have an ulterior motive in helping Christie. Drazin has been very vocal about garnering favorable treatment for racing in the state’s pending online gambling legislation, going so far as to threaten to sue to block the legislation going forward unless tracks were included in the deal. If he washes Christie’s back on the sports betting issue, will Christie convince New Jersey legislators to quid pro quo racing into the online gambling bill before it’s voted on this fall?


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