[toc]New Jersey legislators, casino operators, and a significant portion of residents have been anticipating the legalization of sports betting within the state for over half a decade.
Voters first supported a referendum that asked if the state’s legislature should pass a bill legalizing sports betting in casinos and racetracks back in November 2011. A slew of false starts, prompted by successful legal challenges on the part of the professional sports leagues and the NCAA, have only served to endlessly frustrate supporters.
The Garden State’s dogged persistence eventually led to what will ultimately be the years-long quest’s defining moment—a decision by the US Supreme Court. Its determination on the constitutionality of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) is expected in early 2018 .
With so many close calls in the last several years — including Monmouth Park Racetrack coming within days of officially launching the state’s first sports book back in October 2014 — there’s been plenty of opportunity to speculate on what the largest US land-based sports betting market outside of Nevada would look like.
New Jersey ahead of the pack?
Since beginning its push, the state has emphasized that legalized sports betting in NJ would help revitalize a land-based casino industry that has at times been sluggish in recent years.
Should the Supreme Court rule in New Jersey’s favor, Monmouth Park could be the first gaming facility in the state to launch a full sports book and begin taking wagers. Other racetracks and casinos would naturally follow suit.
With a rich and extensive gaming history – and the fact that it’s been on the brink of initiating a sports betting market in the past — New Jersey would presumably have a head start on other states should PASPA be deemed unconstitutional.
A robust existing inventory of gaming establishments primed to offer sports-based wagering would certainly be one advantage. However, recent developments pertaining to another real-money gaming activity could also be a wild card.
Recent DFS developments in NJ an x-factor?
Both houses of the New Jersey Legislature passed a bill legalizing paid-entry daily fantasy sports in late June. Gov. Chris Christie enacted the bill into law when he signed the legislation on Aug. 24.
Meanwhile, FastPick, a DFS product offered by SportsAD, made its debut in July. It is exclusive to Resorts at its brick-and-mortar casino and online. FastPick features prop betting-style gameplay.
It could certainly be argued that FastPick’s format, which consist of up to 20 head-to-head virtual matchups between real-world athletes participating in a specific slate of games, primes the proverbial pump of demand for traditional prop bets already available in sports books worldwide.
The introduction of a regulated sports betting market into a state with existing DFS operators could make for an intriguing laboratory of innovation.
The Fastpick-Resorts AC partnership already represents a pioneering effort in the penetration of DFS into the casino realm. Would we see other DFS operators roll out hybrid or full-fledged sports betting products, either under their existing brands or as white-label offerings, in a post-PASPA New Jersey?
A new array of possibilities?
The question is an intriguing one, given the great pains that the DFS industry has taken to distance itself from the “gambling” label. Even a distinct product — one that falls squarely within the parameters of legal and traditional sports betting — may still not represent ideal optics for major players such as FanDuel and DraftKings.
However, bold steps are often first taken by an industry’s lesser-known entities seeking to make inroads into new frontiers not yet explored by the big boys. SportsAD has cracked open the door for future potential casino-DFS ventures; another company could opt to be the first to dip its toe in the sports betting waters by joining forces with a gaming establishment to offer such a platform.
Such a venture might be an alternative to a facility investing into opening its own sportsbook. Or, if a new hybrid product that incorporated elements of both DFS and traditional sports betting was developed, it could conceivably serve as a complement to the offerings of a standard casino- or racetrack-based sportsbook.
Notably, New Jersey’s recently-enacted DFS law does not prohibit contests based on NCAA games. That provision ostensibly eliminates potential legal entanglements that could have arisen if a DFS operator developed a sports-betting product that included wagering on amateur contests.
Potential boon for New Jersey, gambling establishments
An overturning of PASPA would almost immediately usher in a new era for the gaming industry, particularly for New Jersey. The ability to add sports betting to their menus could certainly trigger an uptick for New Jersey casinos and racetracks, both from in-state customers and tourists.
As is the case in Nevada, there would be a considerable amount of overlap with respect to sports bettors who also engage in table games and slots. Theoretically, there would also be a smaller cross-section of sports fans who might be drawn in strictly by a sports book, and then persuaded to sample the various other casino games.
Additionally, entities from different parts of the gaming realm could potentially forge new alliances, ones that wouldn’t be viable in the current legal environment.