TRENTON — New Jersey lawmakers gave final approval Thursday to a bill to legalize sports betting three weeks after winning the right to do so in a U.S. Supreme Court case.
But when the wagering can begin and the money start changing hands is anyone’s bet: The bill is now with Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy, whose office won’t say when he might act on it.
State Senate President Steve Sweeney, a fellow Democrat, asked the owner of Monmouth Park racetrack, “Are we betting on it tomorrow? We’re counting on it.”
But the Governor’s Office was noncommittal.
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“He said he wants to act quickly, but the legislation will be subject to the same thorough review that all legislation sent to him for signature is subject to,” said Murphy’s spokesman, Dan Bryan.
Three weeks ago, agen piala dunia New Jersey prevailed in a Supreme Court case that struck down a federal law limiting sports betting to just four states. Now, any state is free to adopt laws legalizing it, and analysts expect most to do so. A report this week by Eilers & Krejcik Gaming predicted only six states will not have approved sports betting by 2023.
“This is a great day for New Jersey but an even greater day for Atlantic City,” Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo, D-Atlantic, said in a statement. “The economic opportunities that sports betting will bring will create development, jobs and drive more people to Atlantic City to enjoy our great amenities.”
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The bill would allow Atlantic City casinos and racetracks, including Monmouth, the Meadowlands and Freehold Raceway, to offer sports betting.
A provision also would allow it at the former Atlantic City Race Course if that facility were to reopen.
Republican state Sen. Declan O’Scanlan said racetracks are technically free to start taking bets immediately, even before a bill legalizing sports betting is signed by Gov. Phil Murphy.
This is because language was dropped from the bill that prohibited any sports betting facility from opening until the bill is signed, he said.
That appears to clear the way for Monmouth Park in Oceanport to begin taking bets right away. The track has loudly wanted to begin taking bets Friday.
But its chief, Dennis Drazin, also has said he does not want to antagonize the governor.
It remains unclear what the track’s plans are and when the governor might act.