With the Supreme Court striking down a federal ban on sports betting, some states are scrambling to open sportsbooks in time for the 2018 NFL season, which starts in September. But New Jersey could be ready for this new form of gambling even before then.
The American Gaming Association estimates that 20 states could be early adopters of legal sports betting, but only a handful could be ready by the end of the year.
States such as California and New York have expressed interest in pushing forward with necessary legislation, but anticipate hammering out regulations to take more time. They’re targeting dates closer to the end of 2019 before they have sportsbooks up and running.
Pennsylvania, Mississippi, and West Virginia passed laws in advance of the the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize the licensing and regulation of sports betting (just in case), while nearly 20 other states had some legislation written in previous sessions related to sports betting that could see new life this year and in 2019.
New Jersey Almost Ready To Go
New Jersey was the plaintiff in the landmark Supreme Court case that ultimately did away with the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). Challenging the federal ban pitted the state against the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, and NCAA.
But now that the state has prevailed, New Jersey’s racetracks and casinos are wasting no time preparing to accept sports bets. Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling and Assemblywoman Joann Downey introduced legislation in April creating a framework for sports betting regulation.
As their bill winds its way through the state’s legislative bodies, some facilities are already getting ready for the approval, which could come as early as June.
The Borgata, owned by MGM Properties, is planning to open The Race & Sports Book. It also is finalizing plans for a new sports betting lounge at the casino.
Borgata President Marcus Glover said they are using the Las Vegas sportsbooks as models.
“As soon as regulatory approvals are in place, we will begin taking sports wagers,” Glover said. “Borgata is uniquely prepared to begin operations as the only Atlantic City casino with an existing race book.”
Other Atlantic City casinos will likely be just as prepared, including two that are set to open in June — the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino and Ocean Resort Casino both have indicated they will offer sports betting.
Horse racetracks in the state are also getting in on the action. Monmouth Park initially was preparing to accept bets as early as Memorial Day, but since have revised their estimates and are saying they should be ready to take wagers by the end of June.
Other States Well-Prepared
If any state is going to beat New Jersey to the post-PASPA punch, it’s likely to be Delaware (“the First State”). They had the advantage of being one of the four states grandfathered in the 1992 sports betting ban, through its state lottery.
In 2008, the Delaware’s legislature enacted a law allowing any form of sports betting, so they technically don’t need any more regulation — they just need new lottery tickets.
“We believe that Delaware likely already has all necessary laws and regulations in place to implement full-scale sports gaming under the direction of the Delaware Lottery,” Delaware Gov. John Carney told local media. “If it is permissible under the opinion, full-scale sports gaming could be available at Delaware’s casinos before the end of June.”
Another state that could be ready by the end of June is Mississippi. The casinos are already in place and setting up sports books would not take much effort.
They took an unusual path towards sports betting. Instead of passing a bill outright, it granted permission for the state’s gaming commission to regulate sports betting as part of a larger bill that legalized fantasy sports. Being ready for business by the end of June could be a reality.
Similarly, West Virginia contends that all five of its casinos could be ready to offer sports betting within 90 days of the Supreme Court’s ruling.