It’s been a week since NJ sports betting got the green light from the Supreme Court. A lot has happened between that momentous announcement and now, but now the big question in the Garden State is when. When will New Jersey inhabitants be able to start betting on sports?
The answer to that question is likely going to be June 7, 2018.
According to NJ.com, New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney revealed that date to be the target for votes in both the Assembly and Senate. The votes will be on legislation that establishes the rules for sports betting within the state’s borders.
Sweeney went on to say that he expected Gov. Phil Murphy to sign the bill immediately.
“I can’t see him sitting on this,” he said. However, a spokesperson for Murphy declined to give a timeline for the governor’s signature.
With sports betting, time is of the essence
With that said, Murphy will be under enormous pressure to sign quickly. The events of the past week have created a virtual arms race between states to be the first to accept wagering.
To that end, Sweeney vowed to waive the waiting period for operators after the bill is signed. Casinos and racetracks must typically wait a month before offering bets authorized by new legislation.
Legislators also want to act in order to curtail the illegal sports betting in the state. Although an ever-present problem, lawmakers believe a regulatory scheme would dramatically reduce the number of NJ players visiting back-alley bookmakers and criminals to place bets.
“We’d prefer it to take place in a legal environment,” said Assemblyman John Burchizelli.
Monmouth Park told to hold its horses
These announcements from the state house were likely a source of disappointment for several establishments around the state. Some, like Monmouth Park, had planned to open doors on their sportsbooks by Memorial Day on May 28.
However, the introduced bills promised a severe punishment for operators who offer betting prior to the legislative nod. The law, if it goes through, would bar any early starters from ever accepting sports betting in the future.
So, as disappointing as it must be, racetracks and casinos must wait for the state. They have pledged to wait even though a 2014 New Jersey law may allow them to accept bets right now.
“Why wouldn’t I?” said Monmouth Park owner Dennis Drazin. “Sweeney just wants to get it right.”
Former Gov. Chris Christie was less submissive in response to the delay. While he applauded the Supreme Court’s decision, he believes NJ sports betting should be immediate.
“We should allow Monmouth Park to start taking bets on Memorial Day,” Christie told NJ.com in a phone interview. “You can’t just look at the tax revenue. You have to also look at the residual of more people coming to New Jersey (to place bets).”
In any case, Drazin’s acceptance of the situation and similar statements underlie a seemingly unusual amount of cooperation between state and business interests on this issue. However, it is unlikely that either group expected such a decisive win after a long and expensive court battle.
“We fought this for seven years,” declared Sweeney. “I’m anxious to get started just like everyone else.”