New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy placed two $20 bets at Monmouth Park Racetrack on Thursday morning, officially marking the first legal sports bets taken in the state.
The racetrack was one of two venues that started taking bets on Thursday, with the Borgata casino in Atlantic City opening a temporary sportsbook for business about a half-hour after Monmouth Park.
World Cup Betting Highlights Opening Day
Murphy�s bets included a wager on Germany to win the World Cup (at 9/2 odds), as well as a gamble on a local favorite: $20 on the New Jersey Devils to win the 2019 Stanley Cup (40/1).
�This is a huge step forward for gaming, for the tracks, for the economy of the state,� Murphy said just before placing his bets. �We�ve got a lot of good times ahead.�
The sportsbooks opened under legislation that was passed by lawmakers last Thursday and signed into law by Murphy on Monday. That made New Jersey the third state in the country with full legal sports betting options, following Nevada as well as Delaware, which started taking single-game bets at three casinos last Tuesday.
It didn�t take long for New Jersey�s first winner to be paid out. ESPN sports business reporter Darren Rovell tweeted out a photo of a betting slip from a gambler who wagered five dollars that the first goal in the Russia/Saudi Arabia World Cup match would be scored in under 32 minutes.
That bet became an easy winner when Iury Gazinsky scored 12 minutes into the game as part of Russia�s 5-0 rout. The ticket paid out a modest $9.55, though that may be nothing compared to the historic value of the slip.
Dr. J Makes First Bet at Borgata
The first bets at Monmouth Park took place at 10:30 am local time. At 11 am, a similar opening ceremony was held at the Borgata. While the casino doesn�t yet have a permanent sportsbook set up, the existing racebook was modified to take bets on sports as well, with three of the ten windows in the room dedicated to sports.
At the casino, the honor of the first bet went to Hall of Fame basketball player Julius Erving. He put down a minimum bet of five dollars on the Eagles to repeat as Super Bowl champions at 8-1 odds, noting that he might not be allowed to bet on the 76ers since he works for the team. Erving was quickly followed by Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D-Gloucester) and New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester).
While casinos and racetracks are hoping that sports betting is a big boost for them, it�s unlikely to directly generate a ton of new revenue. While some experts have suggested that New Jersey could eventually take around $10 billion annually in bets, sportsbooks would only gross a small percentage of that. Monmouth Park operator Dennis Drazin estimated that they would gross 6.8 percent of their handle, for instance.
More significant could be the secondary effects of attracting people to the tracks and casinos with sports betting.
�At the end of the day, this is not a big tax generator, that is not what this is about,� Sweeney said at the Borgata. �It�s about bringing people into Atlantic City and helping to continue the progress.�