New Jersey guv signs sports betting bill, wagering could start Thursday


new-jersey-governor-sports-bettingNew Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has signed his state’s sports betting legislation, putting the state’s tracks and casinos on track to start wagering operations as early as Thursday.

On June 7, both chambers of the New Jersey legislature unanimously approved bills authorizing single-game real-money sports betting at state racetracks and Atlantic City casinos. Online wagering via state-licensed sites would commence 30 days after Murphy signed the bill into law.

But Gov. Murphy held off immediately signing the bill, sparking confusion and a little acrimony. Murphy was alternately accused of holding the betting bill hostage to the state’s budget debate or considering a conditional veto to add the ‘integrity’ fee sought by the professional sports leagues.

Murphy (pictured) ended the speculation on Monday afternoon by signing the bill into law, saying the state was “finally making the dream of legalized sports betting a reality.” The state waged a seven-year legal battle to get to this stage, and Murphy said betting would boost the “long-term financial prospects” of the tracks and casinos while strengthening the state’s overall economy.

The narrative now turns to state regulators, who must issue transactional waivers while formal sports betting license applications are pending. The legislation allows a 270-day grace period in which temporary regulations will apply before the final regs are crafted.

The New Jersey Racing Commission will meet on Wednesday and Monmouth Park racetrack is on record saying it expects to open its William Hill-powered sportsbook by Thursday morning, right around the time the 2018 FIFA World Cup kicks off in Russia.

Murphy and other dignitaries, including former state senator and longtime champion of New Jersey gaming Ray Lesniak, are expected to be first in line at Monmouth Park tomorrow for the ceremonial first wagers.

As for the casinos, the Division of Gaming Enforcement has yet to set its own betting timeline, but it’s expected to move swiftly. MGM Resorts’ Borgata property is believed to be the only casino that will be ready on Day One, having converted its existing horseracing book into a temporary Race & Sports Book until its permanent sportsbook area is finished.

Delaware narrowly beat New Jersey to the punch last week, becoming the first state outside Nevada to offer legal single-game sports betting. Pennsylvania, Mississippi and West Virginia have also approved sports betting regulations but none of those three states has established a solid timeline for when they might launch, although they would all prefer to do so before the NFL season kicks off this fall.