Sports Betting: Why are NJ Casinos and Racetracks Nervous?
On Monday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie issued a directive telling Garden State casinos and racetracks that sports betting will no longer be considered illegal, and operations could be set up if desired. So far, however, only Monmouth Park has indicated it has any interest in the practice.
Legal advisor Dennis Drazin said Monmouth Park is moving ahead with a full-scale betting operation that will take 45 days to set up, although a million-dollar sports bar has already been constructed at the track.
So why aren't other tracks and casinos jumping at the chance to offer sports betting?
"It's not surprising the operators of casinos and racetracks in New Jersey are a bit reluctant to all of a sudden start offering sports betting, because it's something that has been illegal and the federal government, as well as the sports teams, have expressed concern about it," said Dr. Israel Posner, professor and executive director of the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality & Tourism at Richard Stockton College. "As a matter of fact, it's illegal from a federal perspective. Until the federal government gives a clear green light that sports gaming is legal, I think you'll see many potential operators look at it very carefully."
Posner suggested casino operators and racetrack companies that have gaming licenses in other locations don't want to get involved in any possible federal lawsuits.
"A company that operates nationally, or even internationally, has got to look at all the implications of getting into a new business in the state of New Jersey," Posner said, "unless there's a clear signal and until it plays itself out at the judicial level, which is still in play. I don't see a lot of investment going in that direction until there's clarity on that."
He said sports betting is something that could be a revenue generator for casinos and racetracks, especially during football season, the Super Bowl and March Madness -- and all interested parties will carefully monitor the situation.
A federal judge is expected to review the matter and issue a ruling Oct. 6.