Place Your Bets! A Busy Start for Sports Wagering at Monmouth Park
OCEANPORT — If the Cleveland Browns win Super Bowl LIII, Tinton Falls resident Ryan Daly gets $7,500.
That's the payoff for a $100 bet he made — legally — at Monmouth Park Thursday morning, when regulated sports betting officially launched in the Garden State.
Hundreds of locals and not-so-locals took a trip to the racetrack to witness Gov. Phil Murphy make the first two legal sports bets around 10:30, and to join in a historic moment for the state.
"I'm going to bet on the Yankees to win today, tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday," said Edison resident Ed Garber ahead of the launch.
West Caldwell residents Sean Clarkin and David Burton took an hour drive to be part of the action.
"We're going to kill the book today. I hope we make a couple bucks," Clarkin said.
"I've never been here before, but here I am now. I could definitely be back," Burton said.
Tim Schultheis, of Atlantic Highlands, had occasionally visited the racetrack to bet on horses. He expects to spend a lot more time at the track from now on.
"I never thought this day would come." he said. "I love the idea of instant gratification ... walk up to the window and walk away with your winnings. That's the exciting part of the day."
Following a years-long legal battle, New Jersey learned on May 14 that the U.S. Supreme Court voted to scrap a federal ban on sports betting in most states.
Visitors flooded teller stations at the Monmouth Park Sports Book by William Hill and another betting area in the grandstand section following Murphy's bets ($20 on Germany to win the World Cup and $20 on the New Jersey Devils to win the Stanley Cup next season).
"I figure some good soul will teach me how to do this," said Oceanport resident Jane Palaia, who planned to place a bet on the Yankees in honor of her father's fandom.
Tellers had been trained for a couple weeks to handle sports bets. To make transactions simpler, each available bet is accompanied by a code. There's no need to mention teams or players when placing a bet.
"I was up there for maybe 25 seconds to place two bets — very simple, very easy," said Oceanport resident Jesse Knutsen.
After the event, Murphy trekked south to Borgata in Atlantic City to mark the launch of their sports book. The city's other casinos plus Meadowlands Racetrack and Freehold Raceway will eventually introduce sports wagering.