It has been a week where the attempt to contain the coronavirus dominated the headlines. The result is the suspension of play (NBA), empty tournament stadiums (March Madness) and convention cancellations throughout New Jersey and the nation.
The curtailing of large-scale gatherings and self-imposed restrictions to avoid spreading the coronavirus puts a spotlight on streaming entertainment, including online sports betting in NJ.
Obviously, COVID-19 news is very fluid and changing by the minute.
As we refresh our feeds for the latest coronavirus information, we have also been keeping an eye on other news impacting the NJ gambling market. There has been a lot of it this past week; some of it good, some not so good and more is coming.
As this article hits the internet, we are waiting for the latest online casino gambling and online sports betting revenue figures from the Division of Gaming Enforcement. Additionally, there is a midday press conference to discuss Trump Plaza.
Let’s begin by taking a look at the latest statements from officials about March Madness and the NBA season.
On the board at NJ sportsbooks
March Madness should be the major focus of the NCAA as it heads into Selection Sunday. Instead, it has been implementing policy to address student-athlete safety in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak.
A statement from the organization said that it would “conduct our upcoming championship events, including the Division 1 men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, with only essential staff and limited family attendance.”
In the end, the games will go on, a champion will be crowned and NJ sports betting fans will still get their March Madness fix. How this affects March Madness in Atlantic City is still unknown, but we expect more information from NJ sportsbooks soon.
Additionally, the NBA issued a statement regarding suspending the season:
“The NBA is suspending game play following the conclusion of Wednesday’s schedule of games until further notice. The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic.”
NBA betting will obviously be impacted. Bettors should check with the sportsbook where they wager for the next steps. Two of the most popular NJ mobile betting apps have addressed the issue:
New Jersey enters the Wire Act fight
On March 4, NJ Attorney General Gurbir Grewal stood with the New Hampshire Lottery Commission (NHLC) in its fight against the 2018 revised Department of Justice interpretation of the Wire Act.
The NHLC won round one, but the DOJ appealed. Now, New Jersey filed an amicus brief with the US Court of Appeals. The brief outlines the state’s position clearly:
“The DOJ’s reinterpretation of the Wire Act should be rejected not only because its statutory arguments are flawed, but also because its change of position ignores the harms that would result from reasonable actions taken by the states in reliance on DOJ’s 2011 opinion.”
Additionally, Grewal outlined the financial impact to the state, and needless to say, it is significant. He also expressed concern about the effect on the NJ online gambling industry should the 2018 opinion be allowed to stand.
“There is every reason to believe that the DOJ will attempt to prosecute those involved in such transactions in light of the 2018 reinterpretation. And that threat alone, regardless of the merit of such a prosecution, will devastate New Jersey’s iGaming industry.”
Stay tuned. The fight continues.
Freehold Raceway preparing for sports betting in NJ
Freehold Raceway is preparing to open a New Jersey sportsbook. The Freehold Borough Council approved a resolution in support of Freehold seeking an NJ sports betting license from the DGE.
The plans for opening the sportsbook are preliminary, which leads to speculation.
The speculation includes Penn National’s recent purchase of a significant stake in Barstool Sports. Penn National Gaming and Greenwood Racing own Freehold Raceway.
Could Freehold Raceway be home to one of the first Barstool Sports’ sportsbooks? Inquiring minds want to know, but they will have to wait and see.
NJ horse racing industry gets some bad news
The horse racing industry received two significant blows this week:
- A sweeping indictment in New York is centered around performance-enhancing drugs.
- The results of an investigation into the 23 horse racing fatalities at Santa Anita Park.
Top horse trainers, including Jason Servis and Jorge Navarro, plus veterinarians and drug suppliers are named in the doping indictment filed in Manhattan.
Racing officials in several states, including New Jersey, are said to have been misled. It specifically mentions Maximum Security‘s performance at the Haskell Invitational.
One day after the indictments were issued, the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) found that nearly all 23 fatalities investigated at Santa Anita had a link to high-intensity exercise and poor track conditions, which makes horse fatalities avoidable.
The CHRB came out with recommendations to improve horse safety, including:
- Video surveillance measures.
- Additional veterinary examinations.
- Strict protocols to evaluate weather and surface conditions.
There is little being said within the horse racing industry, but there is no doubt that changes are on the horizon.