New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced today that racetracks in New Jersey and Atlantic City casinos may offer sports betting. Sen. Ray Lesniak told The Press of Atlantic City, “I think we’re looking at an early November start date”.
Single sports betting and parlays would be allowed across all sports. The only exception is collegiate events that involve a New Jersey school or are played in New Jersey.
New Jersey legalized sports betting in 2012. It passed in a nonbinding statewide referendum in November 2011. The New Jersey Legislature passed it in a landslide. Governor Christie later signed the bill into law. It was met with opposition from the major sports leagues. The U.S. Department of Justice joined the fight and the case went to court. New Jersey lost every court ruling along the way and the U.S. Supreme Court eventually refused to hear the case.
Not all parts of the law were truck down. New Jersey Attorney General John Hoffman felt that the parts of the law that remain intact allow for the decriminalization of sports betting.
This may do little for Atlantic City casinos. The Las Vegas Visitors and Convention Authority reports that just one percent of tourists that visit the city primarily bet on sports. Sportsbooks are also not known to provide any substantial revenue for Nevada casinos. Revenue is often just one or two percent of overall gaming win. Many Las Vegas resorts lease their space to handicapping experts, such as William Hill and CG Technologies.
There are a few times of the year that sports betting helps fill hotel rooms. Super Bowl Sunday and March Madness are two events that draw tourists to Nevada with the sole purpose of betting on sports.
Atlantic City casinos may be unwilling to go along with this latest attempt to bring sports betting to New Jersey. While New Jersey may feel that booking sports bets is legal under state law, it may not be under federal law. Casinos that are licensed in other states may feel the risk of violating federal law may affect licensing in other jurisdictions that may have a different interpretation of its legal standing.