The hours are melting away. Bettors are becoming anxious. Opening day is approaching. And New Jersey is ready to launch its first wave of legalized sports betting.
Monmouth Park racetrack has long anticipated such a day and plans to be the first to offer sports betting. The sportsbook will open at 10:30 a.m. following a ceremonial first wager by Murphy.
One Atlantic City casino, however, is also expected to debut its sportsbooks Thursday. This could potentially create a whirlwind opening day of legalized sports betting in the Garden State.
Borgata set to open its doors
The casino’s Racebook will be renamed the Race & Sports Book. Meanwhile, Borgata moves forward in constructing a $7 million sportsbook lounge.
If getting its operation up and running right away was not enough of a treat to bettors, Borgata also expects to have a “special unnamed guest” to place the first legal bet:
.@BorgataAC confirms it will accept first sports wager at 11 a.m. on Thursday inside the Race & Sports Book, special unnamed guest will place first bet
— David Danzis (@ACPressDanzis) June 13, 2018
Considering his track record for instigating New Jersey’s fight for legalized sports betting, former Gov. Chris Christie would have to be considered the odds-on favorite to be that special guest.
Let’s not forget Monmouth Park
Obviously, Monmouth Park will be the first to open its doors in New Jersey on Thursday, welcoming the public after Murphy places his wager at the Monmouth Park Sports Book by William Hill.
“We’re excited that this happened,” Monmouth president and CEO Dennis Drazin told ESPN’s David Purdum last week. “The long fight for all the years has finally reached a conclusion. … This is a great victory for New Jersey, horse racing, and the casinos.”
You can expect much fanfare and lots of media attention when that first bet gets placed at Monmouth.
What about other NJ sportsbooks?
While Borgata and Monmouth are the only venues that have been confirmed, Resorts Casino Hotel could have its own book ready to roll Thursday. The casino could possibly use its iGaming Lounge as its physical sportsbook, which will be run by daily fantasy sports giant DraftKings.
There has not been any confirmation that Resorts will be operational Thursday. But DraftKings this week did apply for a key sports betting license in New Jersey. DraftKings co-founder Matt Kalish told Legal Sports Report earlier this month that the casino and the book will look to get going “on day one.”
Several other NJ venues should be dipping their toes in the water soon. Meadowlands Racetrack has partnered with Betfair US for what is believed to be a FanDuel-branded sportsbook lounge. And incoming Ocean Resort Casino in Atlantic City, which is targeting a June 28 opening date, will have its book run by William Hill.
Golden Nugget will also offer sports betting soon with a book run possibly by SBTech. It will, however, not be able to take bets on any NBA games.
Final hurdles cleared for NJ sports betting
Anticipation is mounting for NJ bettors and for casino, racetrack, and sportsbook operators. With Murphy signing the sports betting bill into law on Monday, there remained one hurdle to be cleared before wagers could be accepted. Though it seems more of a formality than anything.
For racetracks, the New Jersey Racing Commission reviewed regulations on Wednesday. The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement released emergency regulations on Wednesday as well. What does this mean? Tracks and casinos will receive temporary waivers to begin accepting bets.
Online betting will not be available until 30 days after legalized sports betting. Murphy said the reasoning was simple:
“That’s to make sure we get the online piece of this exactly right, in working with the enforcement side of this.”