Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO

Monmouth Prepared to Offer Sports Betting

Bill passed by New Jersey lawmakers June 26 would give go-ahead to form of betting.

Despite a United States Supreme Court decision not to hear the state of New Jersey's appeal of a ban on sports betting, Monmouth Park officials said June 27 they intend to take bets on sports in September.

Sports betting, banned in all but four states under a 1992 federal law, was approved by New Jersey voters in 2011 and signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie in 2012. Professional and college sports leagues sued over the move, and on June 23 the Supreme Court said it wouldn't hear New Jersey's appeal.

On June 26, the state Senate and Assembly passed legislation that would allow private entities to operate sports betting. It is based on a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit that states it doesn't interpret the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 to prohibit New Jersey from repealing its ban on sports betting.

According to the legislation sponsored by Democratic Sen. Raymond Lesniak, the appeals court also said "it is left up to each state to decide how much of a law enforcement priority it wants to make of sports gambling, or what the exact contours of the prohibition will be." Thus, the New Jersey bill would allow the state to determine the parameters.

Sports betting could be offered by horse racing associations in the state as well as casinos in Atlantic City. Monmouth, which recently opened its William Hill Race and Sports Bar, plans to be ready should Christie sign the latest bill into law, which he is expected to do.

"We're very grateful for the hard work of so many that have brought us to this point," said Dennis Drazin, adviser to the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, which operates Monmouth. "It is now up to Gov. Christie to put the final stamp of approval on this important legislation that will bring much needed revenue to the state of New Jersey and the horse racing industry. More importantly, however, it means jobs.

"The New Jersey horse racing industry has found itself completely surrounded by competition that has casino-fueled purses and alternative revenue streams that do not exist in the Garden State. Sports wagering would assist in leveling the playing field and allow New Jersey to be more competitive with its neighbors."