It was seven years ago that the citizens of New Jersey voted to allow sports betting in the Garden State. The NCAA and the major sports leagues challenged the new law and took the Garden State to court to prevent sports betting under the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).
After a long and hard-fought battle, on May 14, the Supreme Court overturned PASPA. Doing so paved the way to legalized sports betting throughout the United States.
New Jersey already had sports betting legislation on the books. Theoretically, casinos could have started to accept sports bets as soon as they were able. The state stepped in and made it clear that sports betting needed to wait until a new bill and regulations passed.
Last week, the state passed a comprehensive sports betting bill, and on Monday, Gov. Phil Murphy signed it into law, making the first sports bets on Thursday possible.
The day began at Monmouth Park
Monmouth Park has been a very vocal proponent for sports betting in New Jersey. As such, it had the honor of hosting the ceremonial first sports bet.
In anticipation of this day, Monmouth Park and William Hill US forged a partnership five years ago and had a sportsbook waiting to see some action. The relationship finally paid off.
William Hill CEO Joe Asher spoke to the crowd ahead of the first bet:
As I look behind us at all these new William Hill employees that have been training over the last week or two to get ready, to learn what to do — that just shows the jobs that are being created here in New Jersey as a result of this effort to bring sports betting to New Jersey. It’s a tremendous occasion, and I thank you all for being here.
Legal Sports Report’s Eric Ramsey was on site at Monmouth Park to witness history in the making.
Maybe I shouldn't be, but I am astounded at the number of bettors at @MonmouthPark. On a Thursday. Before noon. Hundreds of people in the betting lines. Maybe close to 1,000 total people in the building? pic.twitter.com/dJSFJyABk7
— Eric Ramsey (@Eric_Ramsey) June 14, 2018
Murphy had the honor of placing the ceremonial first bet. He bet $20 on Germany to win the World Cup and another $20 on the New Jersey Devils to win the Stanley Cup. It will be quite the wait to see if the first legal New Jersey sports bets are winners.
Borgata was next to accept legal sports bets
Thirty minutes following Monmouth Park’s first bet, Borgata hosted a ceremonial first bet of its own – Atlantic City style.
Borgata changed the name of its Racebook to the Race & Sports Book, touting its ability to accept sports and horse racing wagers. Borgata is also in the design phase of bringing a brand-new sportsbook to the property.
At 11:00 a.m., Julius Erving, aka Dr. J. had the honor of placing Atlantic City’s first sports bet. Dr.J wagered $5 on the Philadephia Eagles to win the Super Bowl.
— CRDA (@NJCRDA) June 14, 2018
Just two for now, but more will follow
Monmouth Park and Borgata were the only two sportsbooks accepting wagers on the first day of legalized sports betting in New Jersey.
Golden Nugget and Resorts Atlantic City have both indicated they will be opening sportsbooks in the near future. Additionally, Ocean Resort Casino will have 7,500-square-foot sportsbook in the middle of the casino floor when it opens its doors on June 28.
Expect online sports betting to launch mid-July. The law requires a 30-day waiting period after the new sports betting law takes effect before online wagering can begin.
New Jersey has a thriving online casino industry and it seems likely every casino and race track will launch mobile sports betting as soon as they are able.
Sports betting finally seems like it is real. Yes, Delaware accepted the first single-game sports bet outside of Nevada last week, but all eyes have been on New Jersey. It was their fight, after all, that got us here.