Murphy Taking His Sweet Time To Sign NJ Sports Betting Law

sat laying on couch arm

A sports betting bill that passed the Senate and House near-unanimously now awaits New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s signature.

The question now is when he will choose to sign it. The bill, A 4111, passed 73-0 in the House, and then followed in the Senate. Murphy has 45 days to act on the legislation.

Several reports state that Murphy said he wanted to read the bill and make sure he did what was right. A spokesman told the New York Times that the governor wanted to make sure the regulatory scheme was “fair and reasonable.”

Once he signs, land-based wagering can begin and online wagering can follow 30 days later.

According to Legal Sports Report, this vote was a formality, something the legislature had been planning to send to the governor all along.

Monmouth Park and NJ casinos like Borgata and Golden Nugget ready to open sports wagering immediately, should the governor act that quickly.

One of the bill’s sponsors, Assemblymember John Burzichelli (D-Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem), told Legal Sports Report that this was a great day for New Jersey.

“This will be a big boost for our economy. This will bring more people from in-state, out-of-state, and abroad to Atlantic City and to our state’s racetracks. This will bring jobs to our state and help put an end to illegal wagering. I can’t hide my excitement for what’s in store.”

While initially many celebrated this victory, now legislators worry that Murphy could lose New Jersey a money-making opportunity.

Republican Oceanport Borough Council President Joseph Irace openly expressed his frustrations on Twitter.

Regardless of whether Murphy intends to “punitive or political,” Irace told New Jersey 101.5 that because of how involved the governor has been in crafting the bill, there’s no reason to delay it now other than for political reasons.

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Halting the race at the start

Irace has reasons to be agitated. Last week was no small sports week with the Belmont Stakes, the NBA Finals, and the Mets/Yankees series. And, to raise the stakes, the World Cup starts next week.

Others near Monmouth said that the passed legislation could raise money to bring the Triple Crown winner Justify to the Haskell Invitational. Monmouth County State Senator Declan O’Scanlon also told NJ 101.5 that there wasn’t a practical reason for why Monmouth can’t start accepting wagers.

“The Governor is standing before two choices in this scenario: either he’s the hero or he’s the villain. There is simply no in between. So far he is choosing, inexplicably and disappointingly, to be the latter. I’m holding out hope that he heads in the other direction and quickly realizes this was a blatantly wrong move.”

The law would impose:

  • An 8.5 percent tax on in-person wagers
  • A 13 percent tax on bets made online/on mobile devices
  • Additional 1.25 percent fee for in-person bets in venue community

The law makes clear that:

  • The professional sports leagues will receive no money
  • The legal betting age is 21 (even though horse betting allows betting at age 18)
  • Wagers can bet on all professional sports (except local collegiate athletics)

Additionally, the bill bans high school and electronic sports leagues.

While the bill allows betting before Murphy signs the legislation, Monmouth Park and the other racetracks are cautious and will await Murphy’s signature, reported the New York Times.

Monmouth Park continues to wait for damages and cash out on its $8 million taxpayer fund investment it’s laid out over six years.

“If it comes down to the governor telling me no, I’m going to do what the governor says,” said Dennis Drazin, operator of Monmouth Park, to the NYT.

Katie Callahan

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Katie Callahan is a freelance journalist, blogger and copywriter who covers everything from poker, business, education and politics to construction, startups and cybersecurity.