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Here’s What Still Needs To Happen Before There’s Sports Betting In New Jersey

Several things need to happen before New Jersey sports betting is launched.

Given the resolve that New Jersey displayed in taking on the pro sports leagues in their near-decade-long court battle, you’d think they’d have a complete regulatory framework for sports betting ready to go in case they prevailed.

You’d be wrong.

However, this isn’t a case of the Garden State sleeping at the wheel after railing against PASPA for the last several years.

How’d we get here?

Yes, the eradication of PASPA via a SCOTUS decision in Murphy vs. NCAA instantly left New Jersey in a “lawless” breach the moment it was rendered. But that mostly has to do with how the case got to the highest court in the land in the first place.

New Jersey’s initial attempt to legalize sports betting — the Sports Wagering Act of 2012 – was beaten back by the leagues via an injunction, and by the appellate court in a subsequent hearing.

However, the Court did affirm New Jersey was free to repeal its own ban on sports betting at any time. That was the impetus for the state’s shift in strategy for their next offensive.

On October 17, 2014, Governor Chris Christie once again put pen to legislation, this time essentially decriminalizing sports betting in the state. Taking direction from the Appellate Court’s aforementioned opinion, he officially authorized casinos and racetracks to offer sports wagering outside the state’s purview.

While an NFL-spearheaded petition for injunction subsequently upheld by the U.S. Third District Court of Appeals in August 2015 scuttled those plans, New Jersey forged ahead.

Ultimately, it was granted an audience in front of the SCOTUS last June, put on an impressive showing in December oral arguments and prevailed in the case in May.

The SCOTUS decision effectively restored New Jersey’s sports betting’s standing to the status the state had last established – legalized, but completely unregulated.

New Jersey speeding toward official regulatory legislation

Naturally, state legislators are now moving briskly to rectify that matter. There are two sports betting bills currently being deliberated in New Jersey’s legislative chambers. Work toward uniform wording is actively underway ahead of an anticipated voting date of June 7.

The first bill is A3911, officially introduced back on May 7. As presently written, A3911:

  • Places ongoing regulation in the hands of the NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement
  • Bans wagering on New Jersey-based college sports teams wherever they may be play, as well as on any college sports taking place in New Jersey.
  • Taxes gross revenue from sports wagering at casinos and racetracks at 8.0 percent.
  • Taxes gross revenue from online sports wagering at 12.5 percent.
  • Requires that any operator offering online wagering have a brick-and-mortar location.

Interestingly, the bill also features a “sports wagering integrity fund” that would be controlled by the state’s Attorney General.

Senate Bill 2602, introduced May 15, is similar in many respects to A352. However, it does have some key differences:

  • Gross revenue from sports wagering at casinos and racetracks is taxed at 9.25 percent.
  • Gross revenue from online sports wagering is taxed at 17.5 percent.
  • No mention of an integrity fee.
  • No sports betting licensee may operate more than two individually branded websites.
  • Enables the sites of former racetracks to host sportsbooks.
  • Bars the issuance of a sports betting license to any entity that operated a “sports pool” within a year of the enactment of the legislation.

Monmouth Park, others raring to go

That final provision was key to Monmouth Park racetrack altering its original plans to kick off sports betting by Memorial Day. Instead, the track has agreed to comply with the request of New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney – the sponsor of the bill – to wait out the June 7 vote.

Speaking of Monmouth Park, it’s not the least bit surprising the track is positioned as the proverbial ribbon-cutter on Garden State sports betting:

In addition to Monmouth, the state’s two other tracks, Freehold Raceway and the Meadowlands, also have sports-betting preparations underway, as are Atlantic City’s eight active casinos.

If a favorable vote unfolds on a uniform measure June 7, the approved version of the legislation would be advanced to Governor Tom Murphy for signature.

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