Gov. Phil Murphy officially launched sports betting in New Jersey June 14 at Monmouth Park when he placed $20 on Germany to capture the World Cup and a $20 future bet on the New Jersey Devils to win the 2019 Stanley Cup.
Murphy—flanked by Dennis Drazin, chairman and CEO of Darby Development, operators of Monmouth Park; former state senator Raymond Lesniak; assembly speaker Craig Coughlin; and Joe Asher, CEO of William Hill U.S.—placed his wagers with teller Quinton Harris at 10:38 a.m.
According to Monmouth publicity, nearly 1,000 patrons then made their way to the 15 designated sports betting tellers in the grandstand to place wagers on a variety of sports and proposition bets.
Another six tellers took sports bets in the William Hill Race and Sports Bar as Monmouth celebrated the long-awaited start of legalized sports betting in the state with a flourish.
"It's a historic day for Monmouth Park and for the state of New Jersey," Drazin said. "We've been fighting this fight for more than six years in the courts, and now that this day has arrived, and judging by the response from the fans who turned out for this, it's exciting. Clearly, it's something the people of New Jersey have been waiting for."
Monmouth Park will be open for sports betting from 10 a.m.-1 a.m. Monday through Thursday and from 10 a.m.-2 a.m. Friday. On the weekends, sports betting hours will be 8 a.m.-2 a.m. Saturday and 8 a.m.-1 a.m. Sundays.
Live racing is conducted Saturdays and Sundays in the month of June.
Murphy was able to get favored Germany at 7-2 odds to win the World Cup and the Devils at 40-1 to win the Stanley Cup.
Those wagers closed the chapter on Monmouth Park's nearly seven-year court battle to make sports betting legal in the face of staunch opposition from professional sports leagues and college sports. The U.S. Supreme Court sided with Monmouth Park last month in a ruling that declared a ban on pro and college sports wagering was unconstitutional.
"We knew in our hearts we were right," Murphy said. "And we knew in our hearts that we would win. And we did."
Drazin said he was not surprised by the large turnout, saying, "I always thought it would be well received.
"The only surprise to me is after the governor made his bets and Ray Lesniak made his bets that we were engulfed by a sea of people looking to bet," he said. "It was a wonderful sight."
New Jersey Thoroughbred Breeders' Association president Mildred Fleming applauded the addition of sports wagering.
"As of this morning the breeding and racing industry in New Jersey began a new life. Sports betting in New Jersey and throughout the country began a new era," Fleming said. "In New Jersey, the breeding industry was suffering from a diminished crop of state-bred foals and farms were disappearing from lack of business, but now opportunities in both areas are open to new beginnings.
"We can thank Dennis Drazin and the State of New Jersey for their tireless efforts in achieving this monumental goal. For seven years Dennis dreamt it, believed it, and brought it to fruition," Fleming continued. "On behalf of the Thoroughbred Breeders' Association of New Jersey, thank you for helping us achieve our dream of a flourishing foal crop in New Jersey and success in all aspects of the racing industry."