Sports betting in New Jersey: Governor Phil Murphy signs bill into law

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Liz Cho has more on the NJ sports betting bill. (AP Photo/John Locher)

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy on Monday signed a bill allowing sports betting at state casinos and racetracks for certain professional and collegiate sports or athletic events.

"Today, we're finally making the dream of legalized sports betting a reality for New Jersey," Murphy said. "I'm thrilled to sign Assembly Bill 4111 because it means that our casinos in Atlantic City and our racetracks throughout our state can attract new business and new fans, boosting their own long-term financial prospects. This is the right move for New Jersey and it will strengthen our economy."

Under the legislation, a licensed casino or racetrack may accept wagers at a sports wagering lounge at its respective premises and can petition to operate a sports pool at a temporary facility during the construction of a sports wagering lounge. In addition, licensed casinos and racetracks can seek to operate an online sports pool beginning 30 days after the effective date of the bill.

Individuals placing wagers must be at least 21 years of age. The bill also provides that athletes, coaches, referees and other persons with potential influence or access to non-public information regarding sporting events are prohibited from placing bets on sporting events overseen by the league in which they participate. Additionally, wagers cannot be placed on high school sporting events or collegiate athletic events taking place in New Jersey or involving New Jersey teams.

The estimated State tax revenues that could be generated from sports betting are projected at approximately $13 million in the first full year of operation.
The state Legislature unanimously passed the bill last week.
Last month, New Jersey prevailed in a Supreme Court case that struck down a federal law limiting sports betting to just four states. Now, any state is free to adopt laws legalizing it, and analysts expect most to do so. A report this week by Eilers & Krejcik Gaming predicted that only six states will not have approved sports betting by 2023.

Monmouth Park, a horse track near the Jersey shore that has been preparing for this day for more than a year, said it would start taking bets Thursday morning, with Murphy making the first one, though it wasn't certain it would be first out of the gate.

The Borgata, Atlantic City's top casino, said it is "moving ahead with all possible speed" to start sports wagering but could not immediately say when it might take its first bet. Most other Atlantic City casinos, along with Freehold Raceway, also plan to offer sports betting but have not laid out a timetable to begin.

The Golden Nugget, which won't be able to take bets on pro basketball because its owner also owns the NBA's Houston Rockets, said it would begin taking bets on other sports by the time football season begins in September, as did the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, near New York City.

Dennis Drazin, chairman and CEO of Darby Development, which operates Monmouth Park, called it "a great day for New Jersey."

"After a thorough review of the legislation, Governor Murphy has taken decisive and swift action in the best interests of New Jersey's economy and sports fans across our state," he said. "I look forward to the governor joining us at Monmouth Park Racetrack on Thursday morning to usher in a new era for New Jersey by placing the first bet."

Murphy's office would not predict which team the governor would choose for his first wager.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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