The mood at the conference could best be described as positive. In fact, it bordered on elation.
Anyone following the proceedings likely felt that it was a foregone conclusion New Jersey would win its Supreme Court case next month. After that, presumably, would be a rush to legalize at the state level, with sportsbooks just sprouting up from the ground the next day.
With so much optimism in the air, there were plenty of hot takes.
Like Monmouth Park’s Dennis Drazen forecasting a sports betting industry nearly three times the size of most estimates.
— John Brennan (@BergenBrennan) November 15, 2017
One of the more interesting moments wasn’t a prediction, but a statement of fact. On Day 2 of the conference, Jay Rood, the vice president of Race and Sports at MGM International said he was on his way to Borgata to oversee the construction of a $7 million sportsbook.
— PropSwap (@PropSwap) November 15, 2017
What’s Borgata building?
Rood’s comment certainly ginned up enthusiasm.
The comments make it sound like MGM is confident SCOTUS will rule in New Jersey’s favor. The company is willing to put its money where its mouth is too.
However, sportsbooks are easily convertible spaces. They can quickly transition to a traditional sports bar or other amenity with minimal time and money.
The rumor mill also indicated MGM Springfield, slated to open in June, is building a sports betting “bar.” The same might be true at Borgata, and perhaps at other MGM properties around the country.
Still, the comment is the clearest signal by a major casino corporation that they’re planning for legal sports betting becoming a reality.
New Jersey’s online ambitions
New Jersey is primed to not only offer sports betting on-property, but also online.
And online is where a majority of sports betting revenue is being generated, at least in Nevada.
Big thing to remember in sports betting legalization debate is importance of having mobile betting legal — @WilliamHillUS noted that 25% of Nevada handle is now via InPlay (in-game) wagering. Mobile is 53%. #SBUSA17
— Ben Fawkes (@BFawkesESPN) November 15, 2017
In an interview with Global Gaming Business publisher Roger Gros earlier this year, New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement Director David Rebuck made it clear: online sports betting is part of New Jersey’s plan.
In the interview, Rebuck said sports betting is “ripe for online play.”
“We [New Jersey] would definitely move in that area (online sports betting),” if the state is successful in its efforts to legalize sports betting.”