Dennis Drazin and his partners at Monmouth Park were ready to accept sports bets on Memorial Day weekend. They wisely didn’t after Senate President Steve Sweeney announced he was inserting a provision in the state legislation regulating sports betting that would prohibit anyone who took bets before the regulations were passed from getting a license.
Sweeney was looking out for the Atlantic City Casinos who weren’t ready to take bets yet. In the meantime, Delaware passed their spots betting regulations and bets will start being taken there today. New Jersey loses out again.
What was considered a two or three week delay while legislation was passed now threatens to deprive New Jersey’s racetracks and casinos of sports betting revenue, and the related jobs, for a third or more of their summer season. According to a report on Politico, Governor Murphy is prepared to hold the sports betting bill as a chip to play as he negotiates his first state budget with the more moderate Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin.
Murphy wants a “fairer” budget that includes $1.7 billion in new taxes and spending. Sweeney says he wants an “affordable budget” and that new taxes should be a last resort. Murphy has instructed his cabinet to prepare for a shutdown, in the event there is no state budget agreement by the constitutional deadline of June 30.
Monmouth Park, Atlantic City, et al, are sitting on the sidelines while other states ramp up their sports betting operations that New Jersey fought hard for in the Supreme Court.
Senators Declan O’Scanlon, Vin Gopal of Monmouth County and Chris Brown of Atlantic County, should prevail upon Sweeney to remove the provision of the sports betting bill that is preventing Monmouth Park and the casinos from taking bets now, before the legislature sends the bill to Murphy. Presumably, the casinos have had the time get their operations in place anyway, so Sweeney already got what he wanted by not giving Monmouth Park three weeks of revenue that AC was not ready to play.
Let’s get those sports betting windows open this weekend and get people to work, while giving Murphy one less chip to play at the tax and spending increase negotiating table.