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Place your bet Thursday: Sports wagering now legal in NJ

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Come Thursday, New Jerseyans can start making legal bets on sporting events, and Gov. Phil Murphy will be leading the charge.

Murphy, who signed legislation Monday legalizing sports wagering in the state, will make the first bet at about 10:30 a.m. Thursday when he and others descend upon Monmouth Park Racetrack in Oceanport.

The governor will be joined by his predecessor, Chris Christie, who for years led the charge to make sports betting legal at Monmouth Park, as well as other lawmakers who were instrumental in getting the legislation passed. They include Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-3rd District; Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-19th District; U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-6th District; and former state Sen. Ray Lesniak.

“Today, we’re finally making the dream of legalized sports betting a reality for New Jersey,” Murphy said.

The newly signed law, Assembly Bill 4111, means bets can be placed in person at casinos and racetracks on collegiate and professional sporting events. After 30 days, casinos and racetracks will be able to apply for licenses to accept wagers online.

Sports betters will not be allowed to wager on any high school sports, athletic events happening in New Jersey or any competitions involving a New Jersey college regardless of where that team is competing.

Dennis Drazin, CEO of Darby Development LLC, the company that operates Monmouth Park, said the racetrack will appear before the New Jersey Racing Commission on Wednesday to obtain a license. That’s the same day the commission will adopt its own regulations concerning sports betting at racetracks, which Murphy will then have to ratify.

Murphy said the state would be able to generate up to $13 million in tax revenue during the first year of operation.

“This is the right move for New Jersey and it will strengthen our economy,” he said.

Bettors must be at least 21 years old under the bill, which will enact tax rates between 8 percent and 15 percent on sports betting revenue, including 8 percent for money earned at casinos and racetracks and 13 percent for online bets.

The newly signed law marks the latest development in a yearslong legal battle to allow sports betting around the country. A month ago, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal law, enacted in 1992, which outlawed sports betting in all but a few states.

“We led the fight for sports betting and it is now happening,” Sweeney said in a statement. “We overcame multiple legal obstacles and withstood the determined efforts of opponents with a decisive victory in the Supreme Court.”

The bill’s passage came amidst opposition of the professional sports leagues, who argued New Jersey’s legal framework could tarnish the integrity of the games.

Despite that, the state Assembly and Senate on Thursday unanimously approved the bill. Murphy’s decision to sign it into law makes New Jersey the second state to legalize sports betting following the landmark decision; Delaware beat New Jersey to the punch.

“The bill Gov. Murphy signed into law today will be a great boost for our casinos, our racetracks and, most importantly, for our state treasury,” New Jersey Chamber of Commerce President Tom Bracken said in a statement. “As discussions on next year’s state budget heat up, we urge our state leaders to focus on ways to strengthen and grow our economy, and then work together with the same efficiency and sense of urgency they demonstrated in making sports betting a reality.” 

For more on NJ sports betting:

Poll: Two-thirds of residents support NJ sports betting

Fantasy betting league partners with AC resort for sports wagering

Meadowlands, Betfair US enter sports betting pact

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Daniel J. Munoz

Daniel J. Munoz

Daniel Munoz covers politics and state government for NJBIZ. You can contact him at dmunoz@njbiz.com.

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