State awaits sports betting applications as Drazin finalizes submission
Though gaming regulators had planned to issue sports wagering licenses today, it remains unclear when New Jersey casinos and racetracks will allow gamblers to place bets, as no applications have been filed since the Division of Gaming Enforcement started welcoming the paperwork in October, a DGE spokeswoman said.
Since a federal court granted the four major professional sports leagues and the National Collegiate Athletic Association legal standing on Dec. 21 to sue the state over its sports betting law, the spokeswoman said in an e-mail "I am not sure whether (licenses) would have been issued or what the (issuing) date now is." A spokesman for the New Jersey Attorney General's office did not provide information beyond the DGE spokeswoman's e-mails.
Nevertheless, Monmouth Park Chairman Dennis Drazin — the lone operator to vocalize his pursuit of a sports betting license — said the leagues' pending lawsuit has not pulled back the reins on his plans to submit an application, which he intends to do by the end of next week.
"It's not an easy process, and Hurricane Sandy pushed us back a few months," Drazin said, noting that throughout the superstorm relief efforts, Monmouth Park hosted 8,500 law enforcement and utility workers and made approximately 1,500 beds available to displaced homeowners in its cafeteria, which is still in the process of being renovated to accommodate a sports betting lounge. "Different board members involved in the Horsemen's Association have to complete applications also, and we have all but one of 10 completed, so we're just about ready to send our package in."
While Drazin has every intention to move forward with his plans, he said "the only thing that could affect things is that the judge set a hearing date of Feb. 14 on the litigation, and if the judge issues a decision saying, 'You can't do this because it's unconstitutional,' then it would alter our plans until an appellate court rules."
Even if the Horsemen's Association submits an application next week, Drazin said he doesn't expect to receive a license in time to lure potential visitors to Monmouth Park to place bets during the Super Bowl on Feb. 3, as the state told U.S. District Court Judge Michael Shipp it would give 30 days notice to the court and the leagues before issuing a sports wagering license to an entity. Instead, Drazin is gearing up to offer betting on March Madness, which he said is a more realistic deadline for the racetrack at this point.
"The DGE has been great to us all along and encouraged us to submit an application to get the process over with as quick as possible," Drazin said. "But because they would have to do an investigation once they receive our application — which could go on longer than the 30-day period — it can't possibly be done before the Super Bowl."