With emergency regulations to govern sports betting put in place by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement and license approval granted by the New Jersey Racing Commission Wednesday, Monmouth Park will open its doors to accept its long-anticipated first sports wagers Thursday morning at 10:30 a.m. The Oceanport racetrack, which was at the forefront of a push to legalize sports betting outside of Nevada, will become the first location in New Jersey to accept sports wagers after the Supreme Court struck down a federal law barring wagering on team sports May 14. Wagers at casinos in Atlantic City are expected to begin shortly thereafter.
Although Delaware beat New Jersey to the punch in becoming the first state to begin accepting sports bets under the new law after legislation became entangled in a web of politics in the Garden State, Dennis Drazin said Thursday still marks a monumental occasion for Monmouth Park. The track, which has struggled to maintain its viability in recent years as competing racetracks in surrounding states have channeled into alternative gaming revenue, is seemingly positioned to parlay profits from sports wagering into higher purses and more dates for horsemen.
“We are thankful to all those who will make this Thursday a day long remembered,” Drazin said. “Even more so, [we are] looking forward to sports fans from all over converging on Monmouth Park to partake in sports betting, which was overwhelming approved by Garden State voters nearly seven years ago.”
The stage was finally set Monday after New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy ended a prolonged delay and signed a bill authorizing licensed racetracks and casinos to begin conducting sports betting. In the intervening time, an additional step was taken when the Division of Gaming Enforcement issued a series of regulations Tuesday.
In an interesting twist, the regulations stipulated that sports betting pools could be operated at the sites of “former racetracks” in addition to licensed racetracks and casinos. The term “former racetrack” was defined as any place where a horse racing meet was held within 15 years prior, meaning the shuttered Atlantic City Race Course would be eligible for a license. Atlantic City hosted live racing for 68 consecutive years from 1946 to 2014 before being permanently closed by its owners, Greenwood Racing. While there had been speculation that the shopping plaza situated on the site of the former Garden State Park Racetrack in Cherry Hill–which closed in 2001–would be eligible, the language of this week’s regulations would apparently exclude it from consideration.
Regulations were also put in place for online sports wagering, although no platform will be approved prior to mid-July.