Sports betting has been the talk of the country ever since the Supreme Court reversed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).
The decision gave the green light for sports betting across the nation and New Jersey casinos and racetracks can’t wait to get started.
Most eligible entities in New Jersey have indicated they will offer sports betting. Even the two new casinos on The Boardwalk, Hard Rock Atlantic City and Ocean Resort Casino, are planning to have sportsbooks on their properties.
Ocean Resort has planned a state-of-the-art sportsbook from the very first announcement about the new plans for the property. It is not a matter of where NJ sports betting will happen; it is just a matter of when.
MGM plans to take sports bets day one
MGM International indicated in its latest earnings call that is was preparing to take sports bets at its New Jersey property, Borgata, pending the Supreme Court’s decision. Well, the decision came, and Borgata Sports Betting is ready to go.
“As soon as regulatory approvals are in place, we will begin taking sports wagers,” Borgata President Marcus Glover said to the Associated Press. “Borgata is uniquely prepared to begin operations as the only Atlantic City casino with an existing racebook.”
Borgata has a facility for betting on horse racing and will rename it The Race & Sports Book. Plans for a new sportsbook at the casino are also in the works.
MGM already operates a successful sportsbook operation in Nevada. It makes sense that they will be early to the sports betting market in other states.
Potential problems for MGM in New Jersey
There is a potential problem on the horizon for MGM. A New Jersey bill regulating sports betting in its current form prohibits team owners from accepting sports bets. MGM Resorts owns the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces.
New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney contends there should be a separation between owners of teams and sports betting facilities.
“You know, if you own a team, you shouldn’t be allowed to own anything where you take sports bets,” Sweeney said to NJTV. “Because that alone really questions the integrity of sports betting.”
The language isn’t in the current NJ Assembly bill, however. The Assembly and Senate are working together to create one bill that each house can vote on. Working out the differences before the vote will speed up the process. It is still unsure if the team owner language will make it to the final version.
The language affects more than Borgata — it may also impact both Golden Nugget and Caesars.
Golden Nugget owner Tilman Fertitta owns the NBA’s Houston Rockets. Joshua Harris, who owns the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils, co-founded Apollo Capital Management, which owns Caesars Entertainment.
MGM issued a statement last week, before the language in the bill was reported.
“We are at the table and working closely with New Jersey legislators to authorize a regulated sports wagering marketplace. Once established, we are committed to being the market leader in sports wagering, utilizing our decades of experience in Nevada.”
It stands to reason that MGM and the other casinos are working with legislators to find a compromise.
MGM isn’t the only one chomping at the bit
Monmouth Park is also ready to take sports bet on day one. In fact, they announced Memorial Day as the day it would accept its first sports bet. Then the legislature said, “not so fast.” They included a bad actor clause for any casino or racetrack taking sports bet before the regulatory legislation was in place.
Monmouth Park joins MGM in waiting for the new regulations. June 7 is fast approaching and sports betting in New Jersey is on hold until at least then. Legislators in both the Senate and Assembly are focused on getting legislation passed as quickly as possible.
It is likely the language in the bill will continue to change until the last moment. This story is developing, just like most stories in the NJ sports betting space. Stay tuned.