If you happen to live in New Jersey, and you’re interested in placing bets on this year’s World Cup, NHL Playoffs or even possibly the NCAA Tournament, you may soon be in luck. At least that’s the message New Jersey gaming officials are currently sending to prospective sports gamblers throughout the state.
Potential casinos and racetracks are being prompted to get their gambling license applications in as soon as possible in preparation for what the state believes will be a significant victory in the United States Supreme Court.
The Christie vs. NCAA case could still be weeks or months away from an announced verdict (the results could reach the public as early as March 3rd), but New Jersey’s challenge of PASPA, the 1992 bill enacting a federal ban on sports betting, is giving many sports betting enthusiasts reason to hope.
The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, established in 1977, would be in charge of issuing sports betting licenses should a favorable verdict be returned. David Rebuck, director of the NJDGE, said the following in a statement to ESPN:
“The Division of Gaming Enforcement recognizes it needs to be prepared to investigate and license businesses and individuals seeking to enter the New Jersey gaming market should the Supreme Court issue a favorable decision authorizing the state to legalize and regulate sports wagering. Under existing law, any business or individual anticipating entering into a commercial transaction with a casino must be licensed or approved by the Division. Many companies have inquired as to the State's licensing requirements in the event they are able to engage in sports wagering operations with our casino industry. The Division has encouraged these companies to commence the application process.”
Rebuck and the rest of the Division’s call to submit applications would actually become obsolete should the Supreme Court declare PASPA unconstitutional altogether. As such, the NJDGE appears to be taking the stance that the SCOTUS will reach a more balanced decision that would allow New Jersey to operate a technically legal sports gambling operation within the legal boundaries of PASPA.
Some facilities have already taken the initiative of undergoing construction efforts in preparation for the potential legalization of sports betting. ESPN Chalks’s David Purdum reports specifically that "Monmouth Park, with its official bookmaker William Hill, has plans to add a Las Vegas-style sportsbook on the grounds." The CEO of Monmouth Park, Dennis Drazin, said the expansion could be ready to accept bets as soon as two weeks after the SCOTUS decision:
“We built out the sports bar a couple of years ago and now we're building an expansion out into the grandstand. We will be ready when the Supreme Court rules.”
The Borgata Casino in Atlantic City will most likely be the first full-fledged casino to take sports wagers from U.S. customers, as the resort already invested $7 million into the construction of a sportsbook last fall.
With such drastic measures already taken and expenditures being made, it’s hard not to get a sense that something positive will be coming out of Christie vs. NCAA for New Jersey’s gambling industry. Whether it will factor in recent demands from MLB and the NBA involving their one percent integrity fee, the wishes of President Donald Trump or use legislation enacted in at least six other states, there’s little doubt that a new day could be dawning for sports betting in the U.S.