Hold Your Horses, Monmouth: Legal Sports Betting In NJ Is A Work In Progress

Posted on May 16, 2018

On Monday, Dennis Drazin, president and CEO of Darby Development LLC, the operator of Monmouth Park Racetrack said he expected to accept the first sports bet within two weeks.

On Tuesday, he narrowed the window by declaring May 28 as the day Monmouth Park will launch sports betting in New Jersey.

He provided one caveat in the Monday press conference:

“If the Legislature or the governor says ‘slow down,’ I’m gonna listen to them.”

Well, the legislature said, “slow down.”

NJ sports betting legislation update

NJ legislators want to move quickly to get sports betting regulations on the books. It is imperative because unregulated sports betting is the law of the land in New Jersey since the recent US Supreme Court decision.

Gov. Phil Murphy and Stephen Sweeney, the New Jersey Senate president, confirmed an aggressive timeline targeting June 7 for a vote on a bill.

The bill introduced by Sweeney includes a mandate that may alter Monmouth Park’s plans for a May 28 launch.

The bill (S2602) states:

“No license to operate a sports pool shall be issued … to any person that operated a sports pool within one year prior to the enactment of this act.”

The New Jersey Assembly and Senate have two separate bills in the works. They are working together to create identical measures, which will help speed up the process. Any bill must pass both houses before it moves to the governor’s desk. The Assembly is scheduled to vote again on May 24, ahead of the June 7 vote in the Senate.

“We’re moving quickly with legislation. I’m hopeful we should be ready by early June. Everyone should respect the legislative process rather than jumping out,” said Sweeney in an interview with NJ.com.

Monmouth Park reacts to legislative restrictions

The bill in its current state puts Monmouth Park’s plans for a Memorial Day sports betting party on hold.

It has been a whirlwind of news since legal sports betting became a reality on Monday. New Jersey casinos and racetracks are busy putting plans in place to accept sports wagers.

But no entity has moved faster to offer sports betting than Monmouth Park.

William Hill, the global sportsbook already operating in Nevada, is an investor in the sports bar at Monmouth Park. Plans are in place to expand capacity into the grandstand.

Monmouth Park and William Hill have been anticipating the Supreme Court decision for months. It’s not surprising they were ready to move fast.

It is safe to say there is no chance Monmouth Park would put its sports betting license in jeopardy.

“I spoke to Senator Sweeney, and he asked me to wait,” Drazin said. “We won’t take bets from the general public until the legislature says we can.”

Monmouth’s sports betting plans change

There is something about accepting the first sports bet on Memorial Day that Monmouth doesn’t want to let go.

Drazin must be feeling something similar to a kid on Christmas morning waiting for his parents to wake up before he can attack the mound of presents.

It doesn’t help that Drazin came out and put May 28 into the minds of eagerly awaiting NJ sports betting patrons.

To salvage the date, Drazin has a plan:

“Our current plan is to do the ceremonial betting May 28 with Senator Lesniak [former State Senator Ray Lesniak], Governor Murphy and Governor Christie [former governor Chris Christie], if we can get them all together.”

The winds have been let out of the sails a bit. Even so, it is only a few weeks until June 7 — the new date to watch. If things go according to plan, expect regulated NJ sports betting to follow soon after.

“I’m going to do exactly what they want me to do,” Drazin said. “I fully support the governor and the legislature. I want us all to be together on this. I’m told it will be early June (when the legislation is done). I’m willing to wait.”

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Kim Yuhl

Kim Yuhl is a freelance writer and blogger who writes about poker culture and the online gambling industry. A part-time member of the poker media since 2013, Kim recently sold her marketing business to write full-time while exploring the world.

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