New Jersey Assembly Passes Online Gambling for Racetracks

New Jersey Online Gambling Racetracks

Monmouth Park in Oceanport would be the chief beneficiary of New Jersey racetrack-based Internet cafes.

The New Jersey General Assembly passed an amendment to their 2013 online gambling bill that would allow the state’s horsetracks to launch online gambling sites. To open a gaming portal, the horse racing facility would have to reach an agreement either with an Atlantic City casino or an online partner of a casino.

The bill was championed by Assemblyman Ralph Caputo (D), a longtime advocate of gambling expansion in New Jersey. Caputa told NBC Sports, “It would bring more traffic into the racetracks, and they desperately need it.”

Visitors to the racetracks would have technical support to place online bets between races, much like airport terminal betting was passed in Pennsylvania in October 2017. Patrons would acquire a tablet computer that allowed easy betting while they waited for races.

AC Casinos to Partner with Horsetracks

The Atlantic City casinos would compensate the horse racing facilities for drumming up business for their online gambling ventures. Under the bill, the amount of compensation would be left to the individual operations.

Many racebook bettors are dedicated gamblers who would enjoy other ways to bet between races, while it is thought expanded gambling facilities at the racecourses might draw more customers.

Dennis Drazin, the chairman and CEO of Monmouth Park Racetrack, said, “The casinos should realize that absolutely nothing will happen, unless they agree to allow it through an agreement with a track. Nobody is forcing anything on them. This is really a win-win for the racing industry and the casino industry.”

Racing Facility Cyber-Cafes

Each racetrack would have a space set aside for betting on online casinos and poker. The gaming venue would act as a gambling-friendly zone for the customers. The General Assembly’s bill creates a specific exemption from New Jersey’s ban on online cyber-cafes, which illegally operate in strip malls and shopping centers throughout the state.

Though online gambling has never reached the $1 billion-a-year industry Gov. Chris Christie promised in 2012, New Jersey’s online gambling industry is a boon to the Atlantic City casinos. In 2017, the New Jersey online gambling industry is on a pace to generate $250 million in revenue. That makes New Jersey by far the most successful online gambling niche of any of the three states which legalized iGaming in 2013.

Pennsylvania Online Gambling Bill

Pennsylvania is likely to overtake New Jersey in the coming years, because it passed an online gambling bill late this year and has a population twice the size of New Jersey’s. Pennsylvania’s arrival could be a win-win for both states, if Pennsylvania joins the interstate poker compact between Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey. Larger online poker player liquidity lead to larger guaranteed prize pools and more gaming events in the schedule, so sharing player liquidity could boost revenues for all states involved.

The plan is similar to one used in Delaware, where online gambling through racecourse cafes is legal. Delaware has three such racecourses: Dovers Downs, Harrington Racecourse, and Delaware Park.

Casino Association of New Jersey

When asked to respond, the Casino Association of New Jersey did not comment on the new bill. In many cases, already-established gaming operations oppose gambling expansion, because it creates unwanted competition. In the case of the New Jersey racetrack/online gambling expansion, the plan to cut Atlantic City casinos in on the action is meant to get the AC casinos to buy into the legislation.

The General Assembly’s bill still needs to pass a vote in the New Jersey Senate, then get a signature from departing Governor Chris Christie. While politicians on both sides of the aisle tend to support the gambling industry of New Jersey, dedicated opposition to the measure from the Atlantic City casino industry could kill the bill either in the New Jersey Senate or the governor’s mansion.