Oceanport hopes to have sports betting by tonight

By Matt Engel

June 8, 2018

Oceanport — Since the Supreme Court ruled last month that a federal law preventing states from legalizing sports betting was unconstitutional, many people in Oceanport and across Monmouth County have waited with baited breath for the approval to start taking bets at Monmouth Park.

Now, according to councilman Joseph Irace and Monmouth Park operator Dennis Drazin, that could be as soon as 5 p.m. on Friday. With both houses of the State Legislature unanimously passing a bill to regulate and tax sports betting, all that remains is for Governor Phil Murphy to sign the bill into law.

“I hope the Governor signs it, so there’s no question about whether or not we can open,” Drazin told reporters on Thursday. “We’re hoping to be open tomorrow.”

Should Monmouth Park be allowed to take bets on Friday night, its patrons will have a number of exciting games to choose from, including the start of the Mets-Yankees Subway Series and Game 4 of the NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers. Other major events such as the World Cup and Belmont Stakes will also take place in the coming days.

“This is good for Oceanport when the first person comes in and bets two bucks on the Mets, and then loses,” joked Oceanport Mayor Jay Coffey.

Monmouth Park officials had hoped for the nod to accept wagers by Memorial Day, which was about two weeks after the Supreme Court decision. However, disagreements in Trenton about certain regulations have stalled Monmouth Park’s sportsbook opening.

Another issue that Oceanport hopes is settled is the amount of additional tax revenue they receive. The anticipated amount is $200,000 annually, or approximately 1.25 percent of profits, to be used for economic development.

“I learned more about how legislation works, or doesn’t work, in Trenton in seven days than I ever wanted to know,” said Irace, who has been one of Monmouth County’s loudest supporters for legalized sports betting.

Once Governor Murphy signs the bill, it will make New Jersey the second state, after Delaware, to have legalized sports betting following the Supreme Court decision.

Under the proposed law, the only prohibited bets would be on high school athletics and on college sports that take place in New Jersey or involve schools based in the state.