Sports betting marches on in NJ – but federal court still holds the cards

Regulations governing sports betting at New Jersey’s racetracks and Atlantic City casinos are anticipated to be formally adopted by the state’s Division of Gaming Enforcement by Oct. 1, an agency spokeswoman said Wednesday.

A 60-day period for public comments on the proposed regulations expired Friday, said DGE spokeswoman Lisa Spengler. Of the seven responses, six were from gambling-related companies and the other from the state’s Council on Compulsive Gambling. The agency’s responses to the comments will be included in a summary published at the time of the official adoption, she said.

Once the regulations are adopted, the state can begin accepting applications for sports betting licenses, Spengler said, unless a judge in an ongoing federal lawsuit says otherwise. The National Football League and its counterparts in baseball, basketball, hockey, and collegiate sports jointly sued the state last month to stop the new gambling. The leagues argue that a 20-year-old federal law prohibits such gambling in all but four states, while the state’s defense is that the law is unconstitutional.

Dennis Drazin, the operator of Monmouth Park, said that he expects to be ready to submit his horse racing track’s sports betting application as soon as DGE allows it. Drazin also said that he “intends to go forward with free play,” in which visitors to the track could bet on NFL games at his track as soon as Nov. 1. But the prizes would not be cash, but vouchers and discounts at Atlantic City casinos.

more detail on the comments below:

William Hill, the United Kingdom’s largest bookmaker which is licensed in Nevada and Delaware, and the Atlantic Club casino in Atlantic City were among those offering written comments on the sports betting regulations. Cantor Gaming and electronic gaming equipment testing company Gaming Laboratories International, also based in Las Vegas, had their own questions. The other commenters were Freehold Raceway and an affiliate of Greenwood Gaming (which operates a casino in Philadelphia).

– Freehold Raceway President Christopher McErlean asked DGE for a list of the sites of “a former racetrack” that could offer sports betting under the proposed regulations. State Sen. Ray Lesniak, D-Union, Trenton’s most vociferous supporter of sports betting, has said that the regulation would allow for a sports betting book at the site of Garden State Park in Cherry Hill.

– Greenwood, which owned Garden State Park at the time it closed in 2001, proposed to DGE that the definition specify that eligibility for such sites be defined as “the persons or entities that held a valid permit to hold or conduct a race horse meeting within this State in the calendar year 2000.”

– The Cantor Gaming response to DGE proposes amended language that would create exceptions to the requirement that the betting only be conducted at the “sports pool lounge” in the casino or racetrack.
Randall Sayre, who served on the Nevada Gaming Control Board for 30 years and responded on behalf of Cantor Gaming, wrote that events such as Super Bowl parties usually are hosted in “ballrooms or showrooms.
“Confining sports wagering to a central location will create logistical challenges for the patrons and operators in fulfilling their wagering interests,” Sayre wrote.

– Joseph Asher, chief executive at William Hill, recommended a change in the provision that no one may place a bet for another person. Asher suggested that the state mirror the Nevada rule that allows bets to be placed for friends or co-workers as long as the person placing the bet is not compensated.

– The Atlantic Club one-page submission notes the regulations require “a cage or satellite cage in or immediately adjacent to the sports pool lounge. The casino suggests “that a slot booth be added as an acceptable cage configuration in a sports lounge.”

– Gaming Laboratories wonders “is a patron able to cancel a wager prior to an event?” The question is meant to “mitigate attempts at odds manipulation.” Other questions are about language regarding hardware and software, and a question on the exact definition of “wagering account.”

– Donald Weinbaum, executive director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling, expressed appreciation for the setting of the minimum age at 21 and for another proposed requirement that half of the $50,000 licensing cost go to problems that identify and target problem gamblers.

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