This is a developing story and will be updated.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy placed the first legal sports bet in the state on Thursday, and for many, that marked the start of the future of US sports gambling.
Delaware, then NJ sports betting
Yes, Delaware actually launched single-game wagering first last week. But that almost felt like a false-start. Delaware already had parlay betting, it’s a relatively small state, and it won’t feature online or mobile wagering (yet).
New Jersey, on the other hand, is the state that fought the pro sports leagues and the NCAA to overturn the federal ban on wagering outside of Nevada sports betting. The state has agonized over offering sports betting for years, dating back to 2011 and a pair of federal court cases. Both the state’s racetracks and Atlantic City casinos could use the boost of traffic and revenue that sports betting will provide.
New Jersey will also soon have online wagering as soon as next month. While physical sportsbooks opening is a big deal, much of legal wagering in the US will take place in the digital realm.
So today feels like more like the real first day of sports betting, at least to me. It’s the end of legal battles, a bad and ineffective policy that was the brainchild of a New Jersey congressman.
All of that’s over. And legal sports betting is here.
What’s going on in NJ sports betting today?
It was time to take a victory lap in NJ, and for sportsbooks to open. Rep. Frank Pallone, an outspoken proponent of NJ sports betting in Congress, provided context:
First came Monmouth Park, the North Jersey racetrack that had been leading the charge for sports gambling. It has had a sportsbook-in-waiting ready to go for years thanks to a deal with bookmaker William Hill. CEO Joe Asher talked to the crowd assembled for the historic day:
“As I look behind us at all these new William Hill employees that have been training over the last week or two to get ready, to learn what to do — that just shows the jobs that are being created here in New Jersey as a result of this effort to bring sports betting to New Jersey,” Asher said. “It’s a tremendous occasion, and I thank you all for being here.”
There were hundreds of people on hand to witness history, and to place some actual wagers:
The first bets from Murphy came on Germany to win the World Cup and the New Jersey Devils to win the Stanley Cup.
Borgata followed shortly after, opening its sportsbook 30 minutes later. The AC property already had a racebook that was easily converted to taking sports wagers.
Hall of Fame NBA player Julius “Dr. J” Erving placed the first bet at the MGM Resorts property:
For now, those are the only two places that are accepting wagers. But more will come in the weeks and months as New Jersey continues the expansion of legal US sports wagering.