In five days, Meadowlands Racetrack will go live with its sports betting operation.
And even Jeff Gural does not know what’s in store.
“I’m looking forward to it,” the Meadowlands owner said during a phone call Monday. “I have no idea what to expect, to be honest with you.”
One thing that can be expected, however, is something that has been speculated about for weeks.
When it opens for business Saturday in East Rutherford, Meadowlands — which has partnered with Betfair US for NJ sports betting — will feature a FanDuel-branded sportsbook.
Say hello to FanDuel Sportsbook
Paddy Power Betfair is currently in the process of acquiring FanDuel, the daily fantasy sports giant.
Two weeks after that process began in May, Betfair US — the American arm of PPB — partnered with the Meadowlands for legalized sports betting in the Garden State. Since then, it has been speculated that the racetrack would feature a FanDuel-branded sportsbook.
Now, there is confirmation, as an email from FanDuel publicity director Kevin Hennessy noted the book would be dubbed “FanDuel Sportsbook at the Meadowlands Racetrack.”
For the racetrack, it is just another step in its road to revival — especially considering the northern-New Jersey facility will be taking advantage of bettors in New York, a state that failed to pass sports betting regulations in time.
“We look at it like we have this unique opportunity that’s not going to last forever,” Gural said of sports betting. “We’re the only place you can go in the city of New York, Westchester, northern New Jersey, to legally make a bet. We figured we should get up and running as soon as we could.
“I guarantee you, you walk around England or Ireland or these other places, there are betting parlors all over the place. Here you have, I think someone said, 12 million people living within 20 miles, and the only place they can go and make a bet is to the Meadowlands.”
‘No idea what to expect’
Gural may not know what to expect in terms of revenue or number of wagers placed. What the track owner does foresee, however, is a packed house. And that, he said, is a bit worrisome.
“Honestly, I’m more concerned that we’re going to be overcrowded than I am that it’s going to be a disappointment,” Gural said. “My bigger concern is people come and it’s going to be so crowded that they don’t come back. On the other hand, it’s the only place you can go if you want to make a sports bet in this whole area.”
The Victory Sports Bar & Club at the track will open to the public at 11 a.m. Saturday. Gural said four teller windows will be expanded to 10 for sports betting, and there will be two windows for wagers on the horse races. (Saturday is also the day of the Meadowlands Pace, which typically draws one of the larger crowds of the Meadowlands’ racing season.)
Gural said bettors will be able to wager on the usual sports: baseball, golf, Wimbledon, the World Cup. There will also be futures bets for the NFL and NBA, among others.
As for NJ online sports betting, which officially becomes legal Wednesday, Gural said the Meadowlands is targeting football season to go live: “We’ve got work to do on that,” he said.
Future ‘in pretty good shape’
Resting comfortably in the northern tip of New Jersey, the Meadowlands is in a position to take advantage of untapped markets, such as New York and Pennsylvania, the latter of which has regulations in place for sports betting though no properties have applied for a license.
Even if those two states eventually get rolling in sports betting in the future, however, Gural is not concerned about the state of his racetrack.
“From a fiscal standpoint, if you want to be physically in a place where you can watch sports and make a bet, I’m not so worried about Pennsylvania at all,” Gural said. “Pennsylvania has a high tax rate, so they’re really almost uncompetitive in the marketplace. New York, unless they change, basically the only thing New York could have is Yonkers (Raceway) and Aqueduct (Racetrack) could have kiosks. But that’s not the same as having real sports betting. And the Meadowlands is much easier to get to than Yonkers or Aqueduct.
“I still think I’m in pretty good shape.”