New Jersey finally got the green light for sports betting on Monday. Gov. Phil Murphy signed the NJ sports betting bill into law. While everyone waited, casinos and racetracks have been partnering off with sportsbooks and are ready to hit the ground running.
Among them is Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford. In a deal announced last week, the racetrack has teamed up with Betfair US “for retail and online/mobile sports betting.”
Certainly, these books would like to get into the NJ sports betting game as soon as possible. That would allow operators to dip their toes into the water before cannonballing in once the NFL season kicks off in the fall.
For Meadowlands, though, there is an interesting twist when it comes to professional football.
NJSEA, NFL agreement would limit wagers on Sundays
Meadowlands Racetrack is located just across the street from MetLife Stadium, home of the NFL’s New York Giants and Jets. Only a few miles outside of New York City, the track is perceived as a prime destination for sports betting in the Garden State.
Betfair US CEO Kip Levin has expressed confidence that the racetrack’s sportsbook would be fully operational “by the start of the NFL.”
Still, if either the Giants or the Jets are playing at home, Meadowlands’ physical sportsbook will not be open.
In an agreement between the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which oversees Meadowlands Racetrack, and the NFL, the racetrack shuts its doors when MetLife is hosting an NFL game. In theory, then, revenue at Meadowlands could take a hit.
Jeff Gural, however, is looking to potentially change that up:
“The lease that we have with the sports authority obligates us to be closed on Sundays unless we make a separate deal with the teams,” said Gural, CEO and owner of Meadowlands. “We have a separate deal with the teams that allows us to keep the sports bar open. But the traffic is terrible. Our view is that we’re going to reach out to the teams. I think they’re trying to figure out what the NFL will allow them to do, and then we will reach out and hopefully come to some agreement on what we can and can’t do.”
‘Online/mobile’ betting a key role for Meadowlands
Whatever change Gural seeks, he emphasized, will have to come with the approval of the Giants, Jets, and NFL.
As the agreement stands, however, bettors on an NFL Sunday at MetLife Stadium could still theoretically jump online and place wagers with the mobile Betfair sportsbook. That is quite an asset to boast, Gural said.
But, he added, “we have a beautiful facility. In an ideal world, we would like to be partners with the league and try to make the experience of going to a game that much better. People after a game, for example, instead of sitting in traffic for an hour, we could shuttle you to our sports bar and you could watch the late games and bet on them. Maybe people who would ordinarily go for tailgating would come over, make a bet and then go tailgate. There’s a lot of different moving parts.”
Meadowlands would like to be open on NFL Sundays to boost revenue and increase foot traffic at its facility. Of course, Gural would like to take as much advantage of legal NJ sports betting as possible, especially since Murphy officially signed legislation to legalize single-game wagering earlier Monday.
Currently, though, Gural expressed excitement to simply see legalized sports betting get going across the nation.
“I think five years from now people will look back on this and say, ‘Wow, why did it take so long? This is going to make it so much more interesting to be watching a sporting event because you can bet on every single play,'” Gural said. “Take baseball, which can be a little tedious. You can basically be betting on whether the next pitch is a ball or a strike or a home run or what the final score is going to be. In football, even if a team is winning by 20 points, instead of going home, you might stick around because you can bet on every play.”