Legalized sports gambling might not be ready in New Jersey, but that hasn’t slowed the preparations for some of the nation’s largest gaming entities.
On June 1, daily fantasy site DraftKings and Atlantic City’s Resorts Casino announced a partnership that will enhance sports betting opportunities for both groups. This latest move follows several other big-time developments among major gaming industry leaders and underscores the developments of U.S. sports gambling.
DraftKings CEO Jason Robins told the Associated Press the partnership was a huge opportunity for both brands.
"It's a new thing, so people are trying to see how they want to go about it, who they want to partner with. Anytime you've got a big market about to be created, there's so much opportunity out there that everyone should benefit, as long as you do it the right way."
Partnerships like these are prospering even though New Jersey hasn’t passed legalized gambling legislation. Though the Garden State was at the forefront of legal challenges to repeal the federal ban on sports gambling, state lawmakers haven’t nailed down the exact restrictions to place on gaming entities.
The New Jersey Legislature is still under an extended review of state laws and have postponed the first legal bet until legislation is passed on June 7, at the earliest. In the meantime, Delaware has concluded its legal preparations and is set to open sports betting at its three casinos on June 5.
The deliberations are the latest delay in a multi-year legal battle New Jersey waged against PASPA, or the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which placed a federal ban on sports gambling with a few exceptions. New Jersey racetracks and casinos have invested millions in anticipation of repeal, and are now just waiting for the final steps to start taking wagers.
Garden State lawmakers and gambling stakeholders are unified in one major aspect of regulations: a strong opposition to what professional sports leagues call “integrity fees.” As legislation bounces around Trenton, New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeny has already written to Gov. Phil Murphy to go against the leagues’ requests for up to 1 percent of sports betting revenues.
Resorts Casino owner Morris Bailey agrees, telling the AP the requests are “inappropriate” and “the height of hypocrisy to take the position they did.”
Along with the NCAA, the four major U.S. professional sports leagues were co-defendants in New Jersey’s legal challenge to PASPA. The leagues initially opposed gambling legalization, before a few switched positions and sought approval - along with a cut of the revenues.
The leagues argued the fee was necessary to assure the integrity of the game. Critics called it a money grab. Either way, any type of fee toward sports leagues would be a major drain on sportsbooks and state tax coffers and neither stakeholder is likely to acquiesce to the leagues’ request.
The Resorts and DraftKings affiliation comes on the heels of William Hill’s partnership with Ocean Resort Casino as well as Paddy Power Betfair’s acquisition of competing U.S.-based daily fantasy site FanDuel.
New Jersey remains the epicenter of these developments in Atlantic City and across the state. Along with expansions to facilitate a sportsbook at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, the state’s casinos could see a further revitalization.
Several New Jersey casinos have shut down in recent years, but as the east coast’s permeant gaming destination looks to rebound, two new properties are set to offering gambling before the end of June. The former Trump Taj Mahal is set to reopen as the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City and the former Revel property is poised to reopen as Ocean Resort Casino.
Already at the forefront of the state’s online casino gaming, these casinos are likely to be in the mix of legalized sports gambling when it inevitably comes to New Jersey.