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DraftKings Sets Sights on Land-Based Sportsbooks in New Jersey

With bettors from coast to coast anxiously awaiting the United States Supreme Court’s decision on New Jersey’s sports betting legalization, daily fantasy sports (DFS) kingpin DraftKings is angling for a piece of the pie.

In a short statement posted to the company’s website on March 30, DraftKings revealed that it has been in talks with land-based casinos in the Garden State:

“DraftKings, with the world’s most popular daily fantasy sports platform and nearly 10 million sports-mad customers, is perfectly positioned to succeed in a legal sports betting market.

In preparation for the possibility of sports wagering in New Jersey, DraftKings has naturally had discussions with potential land-based casino partners, as required under the state’s online gaming regulations.

We do not have any announcements at this time, and our focus continues to be on creating great sports entertainment experiences for the millions of customers who currently use DraftKings.”

Through a series of ballot initiatives approved by voters, followed by bills passed through the state legislature and signed into law by then Governor Chris Christie, New Jersey made several attempts to legalize sports betting between 2011 and 2014. In response, North America’s four major professional sports leagues (NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL) joined with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to file suit against the state.

According to the leagues, New Jersey’s statewide sports betting industry would violate the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), a federal law enacted by Congress in 1992. Under PASPA, sports betting is prohibited nationwide, except in the four states which were “grandfathered” in (Nevada, Montana, Delaware, and Oregon).

The resulting case, known as Christie v. NCAA, was challenged all the way to the Supreme Court. Legal observers on hand for oral arguments widely agree that the Court will side with New Jersey, a decision which would effectively repeal PASPA and free states to pass similar sports betting legislation.

Back in February, DraftKings tipped its hand by hiring Sean Hurley to become the site’s first “Head of Sportsbook.”

In an interview with CNNMoney, DraftKings’ chief executive officer Jason Robins acknowledged that the DFS industry leader is keen on partnering with a New Jersey casino – provided the Court sides with the state:

“We’re pretty excited about it.

It’s a huge market that has the opportunity to create lots of new players, lots of new revenue and really open up things in a way that they never have been before in the United States.”

Whether those casinos share that interest remains unclear.

Per a report by iGaming industry outlet PlayNJ, one casino operator – who chose to remain anonymous – isn’t so sure:

“DraftKings may be talking. The question is anyone listening?”

Given the 2013 legalization of online gambling, most of Atlantic City’s brick and mortar casinos already have preexisting relationships with sports betting operators. The Borgata is owned by MGM Resorts, for example, which already operates sportsbooks throughout Nevada.

The Court will issue its next round of rulings on April 30, but other ruling dates on the schedule include May 14, 21, and 29, along with June 4, 11, 18, and 29.