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This is a developing story and will be updated.
The New Jersey Assembly and Senate both unanimously passed a sports betting bill on Thursday afternoon, bringing the state one step away from legal single-game wagering.
The bill — A 4111 — passed 73-0. Shortly thereafter, the Senate took up the same bill and passed it in short order.
The legislation heads to the desk of Gov. Phil Murphy. Murphy has been coy about when he might sign the bill, indicating he might not immediately do so. He technically has 45 days to act on the NJ sports betting legislation, although it’s not likely to take anywhere near that amount of time to gain his signature.
The bill would allow casinos and racetracks to offer land-based wagering immediately. Online wagering could take place 30 days after enactment.
The state has been moving quickly to pass a law that regulates and taxes wagering, after NJ won its US Supreme Court case regarding the federal ban sports betting outside of Nevada. That law — PASPA — was struck down, allowing states to legalize sports gambling, if they choose to do so.
Thursday’s votes were a mere formality, as the legislature has been planning for weeks to send a sports betting bill to the governor. Bills easily cleared committee votes on Monday.
Lawmakers who have long championed sports wagering were celebrating victory at long last in the state’s quest to offer it.
“What a marvelous day for New Jersey,” said Assemblymember John Burzichelli (D-Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem), one of the bill’s sponsors. “This will be a big boost for our economy. This will bring more people from in-state, out-of-state, and abroad to Atlantic City and to our state’s racetracks. This will bring jobs to our state and help put an end to illegal wagering. I can’t hide my excitement for what’s in store.”
“This is about fairness, freedom, job creation and economic development,” said Assemblymember Eric Houghtaling (D-Monmouth), another sponsor of the bill. “Places like Monmouth Park and Freehold Racetrack have been left in the dark for far too long. Finally, this will no longer be the case.”
New Jersey is poised to be the third state to offer single-game wagers and futures betting in the US, joining the Nevada sports betting and Delaware sports betting industries. The latter launched full sports gambling this week.
Monmouth Park, for its part, had said that it had hoped to open sports wagering on Friday, should the governor sign the bill in the short term.
“There will be ample benefits to legal sports wagering in New Jersey,” said Assemblymember Joann Downey (D-Monmouth). “We will bring many jobs to Monmouth County, we will modernize our gaming industry, we will increase tourism, and we will be able to increase revenue for our state budget, and subsequently pay for vital programs which help our families.”
NJ casinos, such as Borgata in Atlantic City, appear prepared to follow soon thereafter.
Initial reports indicated that a provision that would have kept Golden Nugget Atlantic City out of the sports betting industry had been changed in the bill:
Here’s Tom Pohlman, general manager, of the Golden Nugget Atlantic City:
“We are grateful to the legislature for listening to our concerns and including the Golden Nugget in the sports betting legislation. We look forward to taking our first bets on professional and college football, baseball, college basketball, soccer, hockey, MMA, etc. While we recognize that today the legislation will prohibit us from accepting wagers solely on the NBA, we hope to persuade the lawmakers over time that the total NBA ban is unnecessary and should be limited simply to the Houston Rockets team owned by Mr. Fertitta.” Longstanding practice in Nevada where sports betting has been legal for decades only prohibits Golden Nugget from accepting wagers on the Houston Rockets.”