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As New Jersey sports betting neared reality on Thursday, a new deal came down that would impact both NJ and New York.
Betfair US — the American arm of European bookmaker Paddy Power Betfair — announced it had “reached long-term agreements for retail and online/mobile sports betting with Meadowlands Racetrack in New Jersey and Tioga Downs in New York.”
The news came as an NJ sports betting bill headed to the desk of Gov. Phil Murphy. If that bill is enacted soon, Meadowlands could have a land-based sportsbook up by mid-July, Betfair US told Legal Sports Report.
The deal gives Betfair a sports betting presence in two different states — one that is on the cusp of legal wagering, and another whose immediate future is murky.
Jeff Gural, chairman of Meadowlands and Tioga Downs, made a move that makes a lot of sense for his two tracks.
“Sports betting is a great opportunity for Meadowlands and Tioga Downs,” Gural said in a release. “We went through a diligent process and reviewed several options to provide customers with the best sports betting experience possible. In the end, Betfair’s world leading products and experience proved the best choice. We are eager to get started with our partners, with whom we have had a long relationship for racing with TVG, on this exciting venture.”
“We could not be more excited to partner with Jeff Gural and his partners for sports betting in New Jersey and New York,” Levin said in the release. “Meadowlands Racetrack has the potential to be among the best, if not the best, sports betting venues in the US. Combining these premier facilities with the global sports betting prowess of Paddy Power Betfair is a great match and will enable us to bring an unparalleled sports betting experience to customers in the northeast.”
TVG is an online horse betting site that is a part of Betfair US. PPB also recently announced it was acquiring US daily fantasy sports site FanDuel. Clearly, the plan will be to use that company’s database of users to give it a leg up in the nascent US sports betting market. That deal is supposed to close in the third quarter of this year.
“We didn’t just start on day one,” Levin told LSR about its sports betting plans, after the announcement came down. “We’ve been working for quite some time under the assumption that this would be the outcome.”
FanDuel is not a minor part of the plans in these two states and beyond. According to Levin, it’s “very likely” that FanDuel will be deployed as Betfair’s primary brand across the US. That means we could be seeing FanDuel-branded sportsbooks in the two states in question.
TVG will remain as the primary brand for horse betting.
Of course, none of this is official until the acquisition goes through.
The first and more important piece of the deal — at least initially — is the Meadowlands.
The harness-racing track is located in East Rutherford, NJ, just miles outside of New York City. It’s right by MetLife Stadium, the home of the New York Giants and New York Jets.
Its location should make it a force to be reckoned with in New Jersey sports betting market. With New York only a “maybe” on legalizing sports betting in the short term, this will be the closest location for New Yorkers to wager right now.
Betfair already has the technology to offer online and mobile wagering, but it’s also possible the FanDuel brand could be deployed as a sportsbook. Betfair also operates an NJ online casino under the license of the Golden Nugget in AC.
The state could be a day away from legal land-based wagering, if Murphy signs the bill, or longer if he waits to do so. Online wagering can take place 30 days after the law’s enactment. So the Betfair deal will likely kick in quickly, here.
Levin said Betfair will “have online [sports betting] ready by the start of NFL.”
Betfair is also getting in on the ground level of a potential NY sports betting industry, as well.
Tioga Downs is located in Nichols, NY, one of New York’s four commercial casino facilities. It has a hotel, horse racing and a casino floor featuring slots and table games.
Tioga is especially well-situated in New York for sports betting. If the bills under consideration pass, the commercial casinos would be the primary licensees, and other entities would act as “affiliates.” Commercial casinos are already authorized to have legal sports wagering under the laws that created them. But it’s not clear the state will move forward without a bill that allows other gaming facilities (tracks, off-track betting, tribal casinos) in the state to follow suit.
Time is short for NY to pass a bill, as less than two weeks remain in the legislative session. Here’s the latest on the situation in Albany.