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CEO: Pending legal review, Revel may roll dice on sports betting

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Revel, Atlantic City's newest resort and casino, could be among the few venues in New Jersey that seek to establish sports betting later this year, the resort's top executive said.

With the state moving to establish regulations for the practice, Revel Entertainment CEO Kevin DeSanctis said "we'd be very interested in moving forward into sports betting" if the rules are not challenged by the federal government or a professional sports league. State gaming regulators have published draft guidelines, which are subject to a 60-day public comment period that will end Aug. 31, followed by a legal review.

"At this point, I don't think anybody knows or appreciates fully what the hurdles will be," DeSanctis said. "I know everybody suspects that there will be some type of a challenge … But if there's not, then we would move forward right away."

DeSanctis believes such a legal challenge could come during the comment period this summer, he said. But absent that and any other roadblocks, he would look to establish the practice at the beachfront resort.

The Division of Gaming Enforcement published its regulations July 2, moving on a law enacted in May that allows the state's casinos and racetracks to offer sports wagering. But the law defies the federal ban on the gaming option, raising the question of whether casino companies with properties in other states would be reluctant to participate.

But sports betting could come to one of the state's racetracks by later this year. Dennis Drazin, who heads the group that manages Monmouth Park, said last week that the track hopes to apply for a license and implement sports wagering "as soon as it's legally permissible." That could be by early fall, according to the DGE.

DeSanctis, whose resort opened about three months ago, said he was unsure of whether any legal challenge would target individual casino companies. But Revel Entertainment has no properties in other state, potentially removing one area of concern.

"We're a New Jersey-based company, and our primary goal is to do anything we can to create as much business as we can in New Jersey," he said. "So we may have a different view on it than someone who has other interests, which we understand."

Sen. Raymond J. Lesniak (D-Union), who sponsored sports gaming legalization, said last week that he doesn't expect the federal government to act until after bets are placed in the state. He has also volunteered to be the first person in the state to legally place a bet on a sporting event.

The federal ban excludes all but four states from allowing sports betting. New Jersey congressmen have moved to lift the ban through bills of their own, but such legislation might not be viable on Capitol Hill.

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Joshua Burd

Joshua Burd

Josh Burd covers real estate, economic development and sports and entertainment. Before joining NJBIZ in 2011, he spent four years as a metro reporter in Central Jersey. Email him at joshb@njbiz.com.

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