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New Jersey Governor Signs Sports Betting Bill; Sportsbooks Open This Thursday

After lawmakers in New Jersey put the final touches on the state’s sports betting bill last week, Governor Phil Murphy signed it into law Monday, June 11.

In doing so, Murphy made New Jersey the second state to officially legalize sports betting since the federal ban was struck down in May.

Murphy issued the following statement shortly after signing the sports betting legislation:

“Today, we’re finally making the dream of legalized sports betting a reality for New Jersey.

“I’m thrilled to sign Assembly Bill 4111 because it means that our casinos in Atlantic City and our racetracks throughout our state can attract new business and new fans, boosting their own long-term financial prospects.

This is the right move for New Jersey and it will strengthen our economy.”

Murphy’s signature marks the conclusion of a legal saga that spanned seven years, beginning with the Garden State’s initial attempt to regulate sportsbooks in 2011.

The state legislature passed a Sports Wagering Act in 2012, a move which prompted a lawsuit from the NCAA, NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL. The leagues alleged New Jersey’s efforts violated the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992, a federal law which bans the operation of sportsbooks in every state except for Nevada.

After all lower court rulings found in favor of the leagues, a final appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was heard in December of last year. On May 14, the Court issued a 6-3 decision in favor of New Jersey, finding that PASPA violated the 10th Amendment’s provision ensuring states have the right to regulate certain affairs.

New Jersey had hoped to become the first state outside of Nevada to offer legal sports betting, but Delaware beat them to the punch last week.

Even so, gaming operators in New Jersey are understandably excited about the prospects of expanding their racebooks into full-fledged sportsbooks.

Murphy will visit Monmouth Park Racetrack in Oceanport this Thursday to place the first legal sports wager in state history.

Dennis Drazin – who serves as chairman and chief executive for Monmouth Park operator Darby Development LLC – issued a statement celebrating the venue’s participation in the historic moment:

“We’re delighted to welcome Governor Murphy to Monmouth Park for this momentous occasion.

Throughout this process Governor Murphy has always had Monmouth Park’s back and as a Monmouth County resident we’re delighted that sports betting in New Jersey gets started right in his backyard.

We are thankful to all those who will make this Thursday a day long remembered and even more so, looking forward to sports fans from all over converging on Monmouth Park to partake in sports betting, which was overwhelmingly approved by Garden State voters nearly seven years ago.”

Following the ceremonial first bet by Murphy, the William Hill branded sportsbook at Monmouth Park will be open to the public.

Under the new law, licensed racetracks across the state and casinos in New Jersey can apply for waivers that grant them the right to offer sports wagering beginning on Thursday.

The only Atlantic City casino property to take preemptive measures towards constructing a sportsbook facility is the Borgata, which invested $7 million last November to expand and renovate its existing racebook.

Borgata parent company MGM Resorts International deployed Jay Rood – who serves as vice president of race and sports – to Atlantic City to supervise the expansion.

Even so, MGM Resorts and the Borgata aren’t quite ready to pull the trigger on a Thursday launch. In a statement, the companies made it clear that their sportsbook wouldn’t go live until all regulatory red tape was out of the way:

“We are moving ahead with all possible speed to begin accepting legal sports bets as soon as required regulatory approvals are in place.”