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No takers yet on sports betting in N.J.

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Though New Jersey gaming regulators today began accepting applications from casinos and racetracks to establish sports wagering, it's unclear when the state's properties will permit gamblers to place bets, as none have applied for licenses yet.

Dennis Drazin, who heads the group that manages Monmouth Park, said in an e-mail the track plans to submit an application soon, and implement sports wagering as early as January, when the DGE is slated to approve and distribute licenses.

But Drazin is the lone operator who has been vocal about pursuing a license to allow sports betting, even though New Jersey enacted a law to legalize the practice back in January.

In July, Revel Entertainment CEO Kevin DeSanctis said he would consider moving forward into sports betting as long as the state's rules aren't challenged by a professional sports league. Currently, the rules are being challenged in federal court by five of them.

DeSanctis did not immediately return requests for information on Revel's sports wagering plans, though a spokeswoman for the state Division of Gaming Enforcement said no license applications had been filed as of 1:30 p.m. today.

Still, state Sen. Raymond J. Lesniak (D-Union), who sponsored the legislation to legalize sports gaming, said at least one casino property in Atlantic City plans to submit an application to the DGE regardless of litigation brought against the state law by the leagues.

However, Lesniak said, casinos like Caesars that hold sports wagering licenses in Nevada — where taking bets is legal — are holding off on seeking New Jersey licenses in fear of getting their permissions to collect bets in the West revoked.

While Lesniak said he understands gaming properties' hesitation to pursue collecting sports bets — since "the license, on the face of it, violates federal law" under the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act — he said they should "not be concerned about the Justice Department prosecuting them for violating statutes associated with the federal ban … because they won't prosecute anyone with a license from the DGE that's been passed by the Legislature, signed by the governor and approved in a referendum by the voters."

And timing is critical, Lesniak said.

"Whoever gets a license first is going to have a huge opportunity to get a head start on this very lucrative opportunity to cash in on a very popular sports betting practice that already goes on illegally," he said.

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