Don’t count on placing a bet on the NBA Finals or the Yankees/Mets subway series games this weekend at Monmouth Park. Governor Phil Murphy has not signed the bill regulating sports betting that passed the legislature unanimously yesterday and the New Jersey Racing Commission, which Murphy controls, warned the state’s three tracks not to take bets before he does, according to a NJ.com report.
Following the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning the nationwide sports betting ban, except for Nevada, Dennis Drazin of Monmouth Park announced he was prepared to start taking bets at the William Hill Race and Sports Bar on Memorial Day. New Jersey already had a law on the books, and a state constitutional amendment, that allows sports betting, so with the federal ban overturned by SCOTUS, there was no legal barrier to accepting bets.
But Atlantic City casinos were not ready to take bets and didn’t want Monmouth Park to get a head start and two weeks of betting revenue without competition. So Senate President Steve Sweeney inserted a provision into the new sports betting regulation and tax bill that would have banned any entity that takes bets before the bill becomes law from getting a license to do so.
Senator Declan O’Scanlon, who represents Oceanport, the home of Monmouth Park, successfully led the bi-partisan effort to remove the punitive provision from the bill when concerns were raised that Murphy could hold sports betting hostage as a chip to play in budget negotiations. Casinos are now ready to accept bets, O’Scanlon argued to Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin. The provision had already served its purpose.
“This language only serves to enable sports betting to get caught up in the complicated—and apparently contentious—budget battle,” O’Scanlon successfully argued to his colleagues.
Senator, and honorary volunteer firefighter, Vin Gopal, told MMM that his impression and understanding was that the sports betting legislation had nothing to do with budget negotiations after we called for him and O’Scanlon to work together to remove the punitive language from the regulation and tax bill. Gopal said he expected Murphy to sign the bill immediately upon passage and that he did not believe the Politico article that reported Murphy could hold up signing the bill to get Sweeney to go along with higher sales and income taxes on New Jersey residents was accurate. “We’ll find out on Friday,” Gopal said.
We found out on Thursday when the Racing Commission warned Drazin and the managers of Freehold Raceway and the Meadowlands Racetracks not to take sports bets until Murphy has acted on the bill.
We also found out that Murphy is learning the ways of Trenton and Washington. Maybe he read Art of the Deal.
In the meantime, go to Delaware if you want to place a legal bet on game four of the NBA Finals tonight.
The Governor can be reached at 609-292-6000 or here.
Update: As of this morning, you can also contact Governor Murphy on Snapchat
Add me on Snapchat for a behind the scenes look at our state government. pic.twitter.com/CbAZIV3hms
— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) June 8, 2018