Odds are, you’ll be able to start legally betting on sports in New Jersey on Memorial Day.
Monmouth Park is ready to take wagers starting on May 28, Memorial Day, the unofficial start of the summer, the operator of the Oceanport racetrack told NJ Advance Media on Tuesday.
“We do not believe that there’s any legal reason why we can’t start taking bets immediately,” Dennis Drazin said. “In the interim, we believe that we’re free to go ahead and start taking wagers.”
“We’re planning on opening and we’re probably going to be ready officially on the 28th,” Drazin said.
The U.S. Supreme Court opened the gates for sports betting by overturning a national ban on Monday. New Jersey law allows sports betting without regulations, but lawmakers and Gov. Phil Murphy say they will work fast to get them in place.
There’s a chance the governor and the state Legislature could step in and temporarily block it until regulations are set. But it looks unlikely.
A spokesperson for the governor didn’t respond to request for comment on whether he wants to put a temporary hold on sports betting. The governor hailed the Supreme Court’s ruling on Monday and gave no indication he would pump the brakes on New Jersey’s years-long battle for sports betting.
A spokesperson for state Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin didn’t immediately respond to a request for comments.
Drazin was more confident about a Memorial Day opening at Monmouth Park on Tuesday than he was within hours after the Supreme Court’s ruling. On Monday, he told reporters they’re “trying” to get it done by Memorial Day.
Now, it sounds more like a sure thing.
“We may even take some bets before that that are ceremonial,” he said.
That could include lawmakers who played a pivotal role to expand sports betting — including former state Sen. Raymond Lesniak, who filed the first lawsuit that challenged the federal ban nearly a decade ago — placing “ceremonial” bets a few days ahead of the May 28 launch.
Right now, Monmouth Park is the only place in the state that has a sports betting parlor set up, run by British bookmaking company William Hill.
William Hill has spent nearly $3 million since 2013 to set up the sports betting parlor at Monmouth Park while waiting for the courts to rule on New Jersey’s case.
A federal judge granted an injunction to stop the state. But Drazin said Monday he believes that injunction doesn’t affect the track. “From our perspective, we could start taking bets tomorrow,” he said.
Legislation that would regulate the industry could open sports betting to the state’s other racetracks and casinos could come within weeks.
The bill has to start in the Assembly because it’s a revenue raiser.
Sweeney told NJ Advance Media on Tuesday that time is of the essence because any state can now put sports betting in place.
“I think we have to get it done now,” he said.
Sweeney said he spoke with Coughlin and expects they’ll come together on a bill “rather quickly.”
The hope is for the Assembly to have it passed on May 24 and the Senate on June 7. Lawmakers say the goal is to have this wrapped up by June 30.
There is no timetable yet for when sports betting will begin at other tracks in the state or Atlantic City’s casinos.
NJ Advance Media staff writer Brent Johnson contributed to this report.
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