For seven years, Monmouth Park racetrack helped lead the battle to legalize sports betting in New Jersey. It paid off in May, when the US Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) to open the door for such regulation.
By June, mere days after Gov. Phil Murphy signed the legislation, the New Jersey track opened the doors to its William Hill sportsbook. Monmouth was a trailblazer for NJ sports betting, yet it has quickly fallen behind as mobile products have hit the Garden State market in quick succession.
On Thursday, Monmouth president and CEO Dennis Drazin told the Asbury Park Press that his facility may soon join the online crowd.
“I’m fairly confident,” Drazin said, “we can get open by the start of football season.”
Online sportsbook currently in hands of regulators
The majority of most sportsbook handles will stem from football, obviously. As a result, the sport has become a benchmark for operators to target for their physical and mobile sportsbooks.
According to Drazin, Monmouth Park is nearing approval from the NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement.
“I spoke with Joe Asher (CEO of William Hill US) and he says we’re close and the DGE is working as hard as they can to try and get us up and running before football season starts,” Drazin said. “He is very mindful of the fact that we need to be open before football. He thinks we’re close but can’t give me an exact date.”
Monmouth Park referred to the Asbury Park Press story when reached for comment but added that “William Hill has not given us a date yet.”
Monmouth appears to be putting all its chips into football season, and not just with sports betting. At the track, seating is being expanded and video monitors are being added, all in preparation for opening kickoff.
Monmouth could use a boost
Certainly, July offers slim pickings in terms of sports on which to wager. No professional or college football or basketball. Not even hockey. Only MLB, MLS, World Cup, and a few golf tournaments fill the sportsbook during a dead time in the sports calendar.
Still, in New Jersey’s first full month of legalized sports betting, Monmouth’s revenue fell off a cliff.
After becoming the first NJ facility to accept wagers June 14, the Oceanport racetrack enjoyed a head-turning opening month. In just 17 days of operation, Monmouth raked in $2,279,166 in revenue — nearly $1.3 million more than Borgata, which opened the same day as Monmouth.
In July, however, the racetrack pulled in just $856,280 in revenue, which ranked third among five NJ sportsbooks. It also reflected a dropoff of more than 60 percent month-to-month.
Obviously, when football season kicks off and the calendar turns to September, those numbers will bounce back. Yet while Meadowlands Racetrack dominated July revenue (with $1,357,477), the East Rutherford track’s owner hinted at its FanDuel Sportsbook possibly going mobile by football season.
“Hopefully online will be operational,” Meadowlands owner Jeff Gural said last week, “and we’ll have all of the areas of the facility that we plan to use for sports betting operational. That’s really what we’re focused on right now.”
NJ sports betting competition ramping up
What began as a small crowd of NJ sportsbooks has quickly evolved into a crowd. Not only with brick-and-mortar facilities but also online.
Last month, Caesars Entertainment announced it would integrate a mobile sportsbook with its online casino to create the Caesars Casino & Sports app. More recently, Resorts Atlantic City relayed its intentions on launching a mobile sportsbook by September.
Year-to-date, Monmouth still leads the market with $3,135,446 in revenue, well ahead of second-place Borgata ($1,549,661). Yet with added competition potentially taking away from future revenue, Monmouth Park certainly does not want to miss the mobile boat.