Fixed-Odds Horse Racing Wagering Legislation Sent to NJ Governor’s Desk; Approval Imminent

Written By Paul Bergeron on June 23, 2021

All signs indicate that New Jersey will become the first state to offer fixed-odds betting in horse racing. More importantly, next month N.J. Gov. Phil Murphy will be placing the first such bet July 17 at the Grade 1 Haskell at Monmouth Park.

This is the same location where Murphy made the first legal wager in NJ sports betting history.

On Monday, the Senate voted 40-0 in favor of the “Fixed Odds Bill” after amendments were made to accommodate the horsemen groups and stakeholders. The bill was then declared passed after a unanimous 71-0 vote in favor by the General Assembly.

The bill went to Murphy’s desk earlier this week, according to Bill Pascrell III, a partner at Princeton Public Affairs Group. He has been a leading advocate for the legislation for the past two years.

“Governor Murphy reviewed the legislation leading up to [Monday’s] vote, there aren’t any issues, it’s now just a matter of dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s,” Pascrell said.

Pascrell said Murphy’s general counsel has already instructed the regulators to draft rules, and that the governor looks forward to being the first one to place a fixed-odds horse racing bet in the country.

Explanation of fixed-odds horse wagering

Pascrell said fixed-odds betting would revolutionize horseplaying, bringing it to include the more common method of wagering such as is with professional and college sports. This is where bettors place wagers at the odds posted and hold those odds for the race.

Pascrell said some deals have been reached with the major NJ sports betting apps to allow those to take fixed-odds horse racing bets. He said other deals will be completed by the end of June.

More details on these betting app agreements will be announced once Gov. Murphy signs the bill, Pascrell said.

Offering gimmick bets could attract younger players to horse racing. The average Monmouth Park patron is age 66, Monmouth operator Dennis Drazin said. Meadowlands’ bettors’ average age is higher.

“This will transform the horse racing industry and bring in a new crop of customers,” Pascrell said. “New Jersey has always been a thought leader on sports betting. This is a proud moment.”

As previously announced to the market, BetMakers Technology Group has secured an exclusive 10-year agreement with New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen Association and Darby Development LLC., the operator of Monmouth Park racetrack. The company will handle delivering and managing NJ fixed-odds wagering.

Westfield’s Jeff Rembisz, 57, is a casual horse racing bettor.

“This is really cool,” he said. “You know what odds you’re getting when you make the bet, so you can bet earlier than post time and steal some odds. I like this fixed-odds option better.”

 Fixed-odds betting would apply only to win, place, and show betting. However, exotic bets such as exactas, trifectas, and Pick-4s would remain on pari-mutuel platforms.

Other states interested in fixed-odds betting

In responding to national interest about bringing fixed-odds betting to other states, Pascrell has been traveling the country the past two weeks meeting with officials.

“We’ve had a good long call with Colorado … and there are multiple other states that are moving in this direction – I just don’t want to name them so that I don’t upset the apple cart – but I anticipate fixed-odds horse race betting will be in other states by the end of 2021,” said Pascrell.

The question will be whether fixed-odds betting can be instituted through regulation or must be passed in legislation.

States will handle this their own way, but getting it done through regulation is much easier and faster than with legislation.

An amendment was made and passed Monday as part of the process whereas the bill requires that the Garden State’s two harness racing tracks (Meadowlands and Freehold Raceway) continue to host races as a condition of keeping its sports betting licenses.

Pascrell said having Monmouth Park’s  Drazin, Meadowlands’ CEO Jeff Gural, and the Standardbred Owners and Breeders Association of New Jersey on board with the regulation showed the breadth of industry support fixed-odds horse betting received.

“We’ve never had a single vote against it during this [multi-vote legislative] process,” Pascrell said.

 

 

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Paul Bergeron

Paul Bergeron is a freelance reporter based in Herndon, Va. His 30-year career includes positions in the sports department at daily newspapers, including The Washington Post; and association publications related to the apartment industry. Currently, he writes regularly for the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), commercial real estate firm CoStar and various industry blogs from his Thought Leadership Today platform on LinkedIn. He can be reached at [email protected]

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