New Jersey-based horse racing facility Monmouth Park is jockeying for a premier post position if and when the race to allow legalized sports gambling starts. That day could be rapidly approaching as Supreme Court nears a ruling on Christie v NCAA, better known as the NJ sports betting case.
The highly-anticipated decision could potentially strike down PASPA, the federal ban on sports betting. Whether or not the court will eliminate the law altogether or claim that it does not apply to New Jersey specifically remains to be seen, but Monmouth Park has made it clear that it expects a positive result.
Dennis Drazin, CEO of the facility, has invested upwards of a million dollars into building out the racetrack’s sports bar, which already offers fantasy sports, into a potentially functioning Las Vegas-style sportsbook and renaming it after William Hill, the international bookmaking giant and Monmouth Park partner.
After the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement announced that potential casinos and gaming facilities should apply as soon as possible, Drazin restated his plans to invest upwards of $5 million towards expanding the sports bar that had been and are currently underway. Drazin explained:
“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.”
It’s certainly beneficial to be proactive in the business world and by undertaking preemptive measures, Drazin is establishing Monmouth Park at the forefront of the legal sports betting movement and putting the racetrack in optimal position to benefit. Back in May of 2017, Drazin expressed his strong belief that sports betting would not only soon be legalized but play an integral role in New Jersey’s economy:
“It's no longer a question of if, but when sports betting will come. Our efforts appear to have snowballed into a national movement. The people of New Jersey have voted overwhelming in favor of this issue, the American public appears to be onboard and now either the courts or Congress must act. We are proud to have spearheaded this movement and are confident that the first sports wager will take place at Monmouth Park in the very near future.”
His views are shared by others as MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren relayed his stance that the Supreme Court would rule in favor of New Jersey. MGM is already active in sports betting in Nevada as a brick and mortar establishment and also owns the Borgata in Atlantic City which would stand to profit as well after a presumably favorable verdict. According to Mullen:
“If you add to that the fact that the Supreme Court will likely legalize sports betting this year, MGM is really poised to immediately take advantage of that opportunity. Sports as it relates to our performing events here and as it relates to our industry we believe is a significant avenue of growth for MGM Resorts in the future.”
Earlier today, ESPN business reporter Darren Rovell tweeted speculation on the financial impact legal sports betting would have on the racetrack in anticipation of a Supreme Court decision that didn't come today, but will likely be announced April 2.
Gross horse racing bets at Monmouth Park in New Jersey hover around $400 million. If racetrack can take bets on other sports, that is projected to top $750 million a year. pic.twitter.com/1nOj4sofcn— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) March 5, 2018
If the SCOTUS decides to completely strike down PASPA, there would be a presumed period of time when betting operations would be put on hold while states developed regulations and processed applications, but Drazin, again taking the initiative, stated that Monmouth would be able to take bets during this period due to the creation of The Independent Sports Wagering Association (TISWA) in 2014.
While the state would be working out regulations to eventually take over, TISWA would serve as a self-regulating entity to get operations underway as soon as possible which Drazin estimated could be as soon as two weeks after the decision.
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