Both branches of the state legislature passed the regulatory legislation on June 7. The final hurdle in a seven-year battle to legalize sports betting in the Garden State was obtaining the Governor’s signature. However, he originally set no timeline on signing the bill after it landed on his desk.
In fact, one day after lawmakers passed the legislation, Murphy would only say that sports betting is coming to New Jersey sooner rather than later. Gov. Murphy appeared to be in no rush to sign the bill. He said although he is not sitting on it, he would give the bill the same time and level of review he gives all legislation.
Four days after it passed, Gov. Murphy has now signed it. He said in a statement released Monday that sports betting in New Jersey is now a reality:
“Today, we’re finally making the dream of legalized sports betting a reality for New Jersey. 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.”
Sports betting at NJ racetracks and casinos
Under the legislation, all seven licensed casino in Atlantic City and the state’s three racetracks can accept wagers at sports wagering lounges on the property. They can also operate a temporary sports wagering facility during construction of a sports wagering lounge.
Additionally, licensed casinos and racetracks can start taking bets online beginning 30 days after the effective date of the bill.
The list of seven currently operating casinos located in Atlantic City are:
- Bally’s Atlantic City Hotel & Casino
- Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa
- Caesars Atlantic City Hotel & Casino
- Golden Nugget Atlantic City
- Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City
- Resorts Casino Hotel
- Tropicana Casino and Resort
Two more casinos, Ocean Resort Casino and Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, will open June 28 and have also been authorized to allow sports betting.
The state’s three racetracks are:
- Monmouth Park Racetrack in Oceanport
- Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford
- Freehold Raceway in Freehold
A provision in the law also allows the former Atlantic City Race Course in Hamilton Township to offer sports betting, should the facility reopen.
Casino and sports franchise ownership concerns
New Jersey lawmakers designed parts of its sports betting legislation to ease concerns over sports betting operators with ownership stakes in professional sports teams.
Clauses were included that will allow MGM Resorts, Caesars Entertainment, and Golden Nugget properties to open sportsbooks, despite owners of these properties also holding ownership stakes in professional teams.
The law prohibits casino and racetrack operators who own a stake of 10 percent or more in a pro sports franchise from offering sports betting.
Private equity firm Apollo Capital Management was co-founded by the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and the NHL’s New Jersey Devils owner Joshua Harris. The company also owns a stake in Caesars Entertainment, although it is less than a 10 percent stake. Therefore, Caesars’ three Atlantic City casino properties have been authorized to open sportsbooks.
The law also allows casino and racetrack operators who own a stake in a pro sports team to allow sports betting provided the team is worth less than one percent of its business.
Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa owner MGM Resorts owns the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces. However, it will be allowed to offer sports betting because the team is worth less than one percent of MGM Resorts.
Finally, a last-minute change to the law will also allow Golden Nugget Atlantic City to allow sports betting. Owner Tilman Fertitta is also the sole owner of the NBA’s Houston Rockets, having bought the team for $2.2 billion in 2017. Parent company Landry’s had revenues of approximately $3.4 billion in 2017.
That means the Rockets are worth more than one percent of Fertitta’s business and he owns more than 10 percent of the team.
However, the last-minute change to the law will allow Golden Nugget to take bets on all sports except NBA basketball. They are, however, clear to take bets on college basketball.