NJ sports betting — officials, venues prepare for potential green-light
A years-long court battle for legal sports betting in New Jersey will come to a close with a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court in the months ahead.
If the ruling lands in New Jersey's favor, and sports wagering is permitted at casinos and racetracks, the state doesn't want to waste a minute.
The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement is encouraging parties interested in sports betting to start the application process for a casino service industry license, if they haven't already.
"The Division of Gaming Enforcement recognizes it needs to be prepared to investigate and license businesses and individuals seeking to enter the New Jersey gaming market should the Supreme Court issue a favorable decision authorizing the state to legalize and regulate sports wagering," director David Rebuck said in a statement.
Taking aim at the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which banned state-regulated sports wagering in all but four states that met an early-1990s deadline to allow it, the Garden State approved a law in 2014 (different from a law passed in 2012) that would remove the prohibition at tracks and gaming halls.
The major sports leagues and the NCAA have lobbied against New Jersey's efforts.
The Supreme Court announced in June that it would take up New Jersey's bid, and arguments began in December. A ruling is expected by June.
If New Jersey's law gets the green light, sports betting could be up and running as soon as a couple weeks later at Monmouth Park in Eatontown, according to vice president of business operations, Bill Knauf.
The racetrack partnered three years ago with one of the world's largest bookmaking operations and has already built a room intended for sports betting — equipped with a bar, tables, nearly 100 televisions and a space for betting machines.
The track is in the process of converting a piece of its main betting area to accommodate sports betting as well.
"It's being transformed with the hope of sports-betting coming," Knauf told New Jersey 101.5. "We want to be able to operate as quickly as possible."
Placing bets on games would have to wait longer than a couple weeks if the court ruling demands that it be state-regulated, Knauf noted.
Roger Gros, publisher of Global Gaming Business magazine, said getting the sports-betting operation off the ground wouldn't be a heavy lift for Atlantic City casinos.
"There's really an overcapacity of casino space, so they would be easily adaptable to setting up a sportsbook, and it wouldn't take long," Gros said.
If mobile betting is an option, Gros said, the space necessary for a sportsbook would be minimal.
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