Monmouth Park in New Jersey may be the first location outside Nevada to start offering sports gambling. (Seth Wenig/Associated Press)
The Supreme Court on Monday cleared the path for U.S. states to start offering sports gambling, ruling that a federal law that limited the practice in the United States was unconstitutional. Some states outside of Nevada — which already has a well-established sports-gambling industry — have been preparing for this day for years, and they likely will be the first to start taking bets. Here’s a look at the pacesetters.
The Garden State did the heavy lifting that led to Monday’s ruling, enacting a number of laws that challenged the constitutionality of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992. So that state is more than ready to get the ball rolling. Monmouth Park, a racetrack on the Jersey Shore, has been waiting for this day since 2013, when it constructed a sports bar that can be converted to a sportsbook, and there are plans for a separate Las Vegas-style sportsbook on the property. Dennis Drazin, the CEO of the company that operates Monmouth Park, told The Post’s Rick Maese that the track could be taking bets in as short as two weeks, with “a possibility we could be ready sooner,” and ESPN’s David Payne Purdum reported Tuesday that the track is targeting May 28. The track already has established a partnership with William Hill, a British betting company that also has a sizable foothold in Nevada’s sports-gambling operation.
But what about the Atlantic City casinos, which have been hurt by the expansion of gambling to nearby states in the Mid-Atlantic? The Borgata announced in November that it would be constructing a sportsbook, and the Ocean Resort, the replacement for the doomed Revel that is slated to open this summer, has plans to open one, as well.
Last year, Mississippi lawmakers legalized sports gambling in the event that the Supreme Court ruled in New Jersey’s favor. Now that that’s happened, expect it to be up and running at the state’s 28 casinos by the end of the summer “if not sooner,” Allen Godfrey, executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Association, told the Sun Herald. The state still needs to hold a public-comment session on the proposed sports-gambling regulations, which will take effect 30 days after they are approved by the Gaming Commission.
No matter when it happens, Mississippi almost certainly will be the first state in the Southeast to allow sports gambling. Louisiana, which has casinos, is the only neighboring state that has some sort of sports-gambling legislation on the table, but nothing is expected to pass until next year at the earliest unless Gov. John Bel Edwards calls for it to be discussed during a special session of the state’s legislature.
“Not only are we not going to get anything out of it, we’re going to lose money,” Louisiana State Sen. Danny Martiny said Monday after the Supreme Court’s decision. Gulfport and Biloxi, home to a number of casinos in Mississippi, are only about a 90-minute drive east of New Orleans.
Like Mississippi, Pennsylvania legalized sports gambling last year in the event of a positive Supreme Court ruling. There’s one possible sticking point, however: Any casino that wants to start offering sports betting must pay a $10 million licensing fee and have its revenue taxed at a rate of 36 percent.
Pennsylvania has 12 casinos with a 13th being built close to the home stadiums of the Philadelphia Phillies, Eagles and 76ers/Flyers. One has to think that some of those casinos will find the state’s take too onerous and will sit on the sports-gambling sidelines.
The state legislature legalized sports gambling for its five casinos in March with a bill that passed without the signature of Gov. Jim Justice, who has signaled that he would like to cooperate more with the professional sports leagues and may ask the legislature to reconsider the bill in a special session. But Craig Blair, chairman of the state Senate’s Finance Committee, said this week that no special session is necessary and that the casinos themselves can work things out with the leagues, especially when it comes to paying them a so-called “integrity fee.” The state’s legislators themselves do not seem welcoming to the idea of paying the leagues a cut of all wagers, while Justice — whose family owns a casino — has been more receptive after heavy lobbying from the leagues themselves.
According to MetroNews, West Virginia officials believe they can have sports gambling up and running in 90 days once all the regulations are written.
Delaware was one of the four states where sports gambling was allowed in some form under the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, the law that the Supreme Court struck down on Monday. However, betting was limited to multigame parlays on NFL games. Still, considering that the state legislature legalized all sports gambling years ago, Delaware could quickly move forward to offer full-scale sports betting at its three casinos without any further approval.
“If it is permissible under the (Supreme Court) opinion, full-scale sports gaming could be available at Delaware’s casinos before the end of June,” Gov. John Carney said in a statement Monday. His administration has been planning for a positive Supreme Court ruling for months.
Delaware’s NFL parlay cards are sold via lottery terminals at convenience stores and restaurants, usually bringing in between $5 million and $6 million in revenue annually (though last year they brought in only $2.2 million, thanks to a successful run by gamblers). Those establishments probably do not want the parlays to go away, but if offered the choice between single-game sports gambling and multigame parlay cards, bettors probably would choose the former.
These other states aren’t so far along but could move quickly on the issue:
Connecticut: Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Monday that he is prepared to call the General Assembly into session to reconsider a sports-gambling bill, which failed to pass earlier this year. Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz called the idea “an appropriate and prudent response” to the Supreme Court ruling. The main issue is whether the practice would be allowed only at the Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods casinos, which are owned by the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes, or whether the state would push to open new casinos. The tribes argue that sports gambling falls under their agreement with the state that allows them to operate their casinos without competition. In exchange for such exclusivity, the tribes pay the state 25 percent of their slot machine revenue.
New York: In 2013, the state passed a law allowing for sports gambling at four new Upstate casinos, should the practice be legalized. However, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) said Monday that he’s in no rush to begin the practice and suggested a new law might be needed, which might be tough considering state lawmakers end their legislative session next month. But John Bonacic, chairman of the state Senate’s racing, gaming and wagering committee, said Monday that he may introduce legislation next week to decide the matter before the legislators go home, hoping to get sports gambling in place by the time football season kicks off this fall.
Iowa: Home to 19 state-sanctioned casinos plus three more operated by Native American tribes, Iowa has been watching New Jersey’s quest closely. State Rep. Jake Highfill said Monday that he will introduce legislation to legalize sports gambling when the legislature convenes in January.
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