The New Jersey Racing Commission (NJRC) has approved Betfair’s license application to operate an online wagering exchange four years after the request was first received.
In what is an unprecedented move, the NJRC granted Betfair US, in conjunction with the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority (NJSEA) and Monmouth Park Racetrack, with the right to manage an Internet horse racing betting platform for residents in the state.
As part of the approval, the NJRC and NJSEA require Betfair to utilize an approved exchange services agent. In anticipation of that proviso, Betfair struck a deal with Darby Development, operators of Monmouth Park and owned by powerful Garden State attorney Dennis Drazin.
The United States’ first-of-its-kind online horse wagering website will be limited for the time being to New Jersey and equine racing only.
When Betfair first applied for the license in 2011, the United Kingdom bookmaker and gambling corporation had more grandeur plans. New Jerseyans had just voted in favor of sports betting, and online gaming fans were in an uproar following the crackdown on poker networks PokerStars and Full Tilt.
Betfair likely assumed its application to run a horse racing exchange would naturally morph into a sports betting platform and give the company an immediate monopoly on the market.
Of course, the rollout of sports betting in New Jersey has been more of a rollback over the last 48 months as the NCAA, NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL filed suit against the state claiming it’s in violation of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA).
PASPA is a federal law that prevents betting on sports except for the grandfathered in jurisdictions of Nevada, Oregon, Montana, and Delaware.
New Jersey argued that PASPA is unconstitutional and discriminatory, and enacted an amendment to the New Jersey State Constitution to open up the issue to become a voted on measure. Voters subsequently backed a referendum to legalize sports gambling in overwhelming fashion.
Born in the New Jersey
When it comes to presidential elections, swing states often determine the eventual outcome of which candidate claims the White House. But when it comes to gambling, New Jersey has largely taken the lead over the last half-decade.
One of the first three states to legalize online gambling, New Jersey is now fighting for additional gaming rights.
After three judges in the United States Third Circuit initially struck down Jersey’s choice to legalize sports betting, the state fired back with an appeal, the court ultimately agreeing to re-hear the case, a rarity in the federal judicial system.
A majority of the Third Circuit judges will listen to testimony on sports betting sometime in February. Should they rule in favor of the state, sports betting would be permitted.
The next step then, at least according to New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement boss David Rebuck, would be to bring sports betting online.
Assuming all goes as planned in the eyes of gaming proponents, that means Betfair’s horse racing exchange could include professional and collegiate contests sometime in the latter part of 2016.