New Jersey Assembly And Senate Unanimously Pass Sports Betting Legalization

It has been a long time coming, but both the upper and the lower house of the New Jersey state legislature unanimously approved a bill to legalize sports betting Thursday afternoon.

The members of the New Jersey Assembly voted 73-0 in favor of the bill, officially known as A 4111, while the Senate returned a decisive 37-0 vote to the same effect. The bill will now head to the office of Gov. Phil Murphy, who has a deadline of 45 days to sign it into law. According to the governor’s press secretary, Dan Bryan, Murphy is looking forward to “closely reviewing” the sports betting legislation, though neither the governor nor his mouthpieces gave any indication that he would move to quickly to sign the bill, but the hope is that he won’t dally overlong.

"The Governor has long been supportive of New Jersey's right to allow sports betting and he wants to ensure that the proposed regulatory scheme is fair and reasonable,” Bryan wrote in a statement released to the national news media.

New Jersey Assembly And Senate Unanimously Pass Sports Betting LegalizationToo much is riding on that signature to waste time. New Jersey’s race tracks and casinos, which will be able to legally begin offering single-event sports betting action immediately upon the governor putting his pen to the page, are champing at the bit to start taking action on sports. The plan was for Monmouth Park, located just outside Oceanport, to begin taking bets by Memorial Day, but – needless to say – that did not pan out.

The aforementioned bill passed Thursday stipulated that any attempt to open a sportsbook prior to the necessary regulations being finalized would result in never being allowed to obtain a sports betting license. That meant that Delaware – one of the four states that was at least partially immune to the deleterious effects of PASPA – beat New Jersey to the punch and started taking bets on sports on June 5, much to the chagrin of lawmakers and casino and racetrack operators, and especially sports bettors in the state.

Still, reps from Monmouth Park are glad to finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, even if they will no doubt be counting down the days until Murphy finally signs the bill.

"We're excited that this happened," Monmouth Park spokesman Dennis Drazen said in an interview with local media. "The long fight for all the years has finally reached a conclusion. The bill is on the way to the governor. We hope he signs it. This is a great victory for New Jersey, horse racing and the casinos."

Having passed the law, the Garden State, the leading actor in the fight to have the Supreme Court reconsider the constitutionality of the longstanding near-nationwide ban on sports betting legalization is now just a signature from Gov. Phil Murphy away saying it can offer sports betting options for the first time ever. None of that would have been possible if New Jersey had not been successful in its bid to have Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (also known as PASPA) overturned by the highest court in the land. That momentous occasion came a little less than a month ago via a 6-3 majority decision from the SCOTUS justices, which made Thursday’s unanimous vote something of a culmination to the years’ long battle to make legal sports betting a reality in the Garden State.

Next up for New Jersey, casinos in Atlantic City like the Borgata are expected to open sportsbooks within a few days of the governor signing the bill into law. Online wagering through state-sanctioned websites run by the licensed sportsbook operators and accessible statewide are likely going to go online within 30 days after the bill is signed. One interesting wrinkle is that the Golden Nugget Atlantic City casino and resort, which is owned by the owner of the Houston Rockets, will not allow NBA betting – perhaps in a show of solidarity with league Commissioner Adam Silver. The commish has repeatedly gone before national news media with statements to the effect that the major pro sports leagues are “entitled” to a so called “integrity fee” – basically a 1 percent royalty assessed on sportsbook handles. knows there is little chance that sportsbook operators in New Jersey would be too happy with that kind of a scheme, but lawmakers did eventually settle on a 13.5 percent tax on adjusted gross revenues for the industry. Additionally, there will be another 1.5 percent tax on top of that – the state has said it will be used to assist with marketing New Jersey as one of the nation’s premier gambling destinations. At any rate, it is estimated that approximately $7.75 billion will be bet on sports every year in the Garden State once the sports betting market and online market comes into its own.


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