Sports betting possible by end of May at Monmouth Park
OCEANPORT — Unless somebody stops him, the boss of Monmouth Park expects to launch sports betting at the racetrack by the end of May.
Hours after the U.S. Supreme Court did away with a federal ban on sports betting in most states, Dennis Drazin, the chairman and CEO of Darby Development LLC, which operates the Monmouth County track, said Monday afternoon it's his intention to "be up and running in two weeks."
"If the Legislature or the Governor tells us to slow down, I'm going to listen to them," Drazin said.
Legislation to regulate sports betting in the state could be approved in both houses by the second week of June. Senate President Stephen Sweeney said people will likely be able to legally bet on sports in New Jersey by June 30.
When asked whether they'd stand in the way of Drazin's plans to get things rolling before the state lays out official language, area lawmakers said "that would be an executive decision." As of Monday evening, the office of Gov. Phil Murphy did not respond to a request for comment.
In the last few years, Monmouth Park partnered with the world's largest bookmaking company, and invested more than $2 million to build a room intended for sports betting and convert a segment of its main betting area to accommodate the practice as well.
The track — Drazin in particular — has been the leader in the years-long fight to legalize sports gambling in New Jersey.
Drazin said the track could have a "very soft opening" sooner than two weeks from now, allowing bets from the Governor, former Gov. Chris Christie and lawmakers who supported the track's efforts to legalize sports betting.
"I think what we may roll out with to begin with is taking some hand bets that are limited in nature — maybe a maximum of $1,000 — which would be future wagers on something like the Super Bowl," Drazin said.
The roll-out will be much slower at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford. The racetrack likely won't be ready to accept bets in June if, in fact, that's when a bill is signed into law.
"Our goal is to be up and running for the football season," said Jeff Gural, chairman and CEO.
Gural said with this ruling he'll begin interviewing companies to handle sportsbook operations at the track.
Casinos in Atlantic City are likely to take a wait-and-see approach as well.
MGM Resorts International, which operates the Borgata, said it's working closely with New Jersey legislators "to authorize a regulated sports wagering marketplace" and is "committed to being the market leader in sports wagering."
Caesars Entertainment Corporation, which handles three casino properties in Atlantic City, said it plans to expand its sports betting business, in light of Monday's ruling, "wherever secure and responsible wagering" is legalized.
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at email@example.com.