The New Jersey sports betting scene will gain a new player Saturday morning when the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, N.J., introduces the FanDuel Sportsbook at Victory Sports Bar & Club in a soft launch.
The sportsbook will open at 9:30 a.m. for dignitaries and then to the general public at 11 a.m. “There will be 27 television screens and 10 sports betting stations,” FanDuel spokesman Kevin Hennessey said in an email Tuesday. “It features high-top tables, a VIP area, leaning rails, bar stools, sofas, and dining chairs.”
Patrons will be able to wager on baseball, bet futures and proposition wagers on football, wager on Wimbledon and on the World Cup finals taking place on Sunday night between France and the winner of Wednesday’s England-Croatia match. The sportsbook’s opening is significant for a number of reasons, especially those related to geography.
FanDuel Sportsbook Will Launch at Meadowlands Racetrack as New Jersey Sports Betting Scene Plants a Flag a Short Trip From New York
Before we go into geography, one major milestone here is the official introduction of a heretofore daily fantasy sports operator into the legal U.S. sports betting market.
Either the 1B or 1A to DraftKings in the daily fantasy business, while DraftKings has also landed a couple partnerships, FanDuel’s foray will come first.
Tuesday, Meadowlands COO/general manager Jason Settlemoir confirmed in a conversation with Sports Handle that is indeed the FanDuel Sportsbook — and will not be branded in any way by the powerful Ireland-based bookmaker Paddy Power Betfair (PPB, or Betfair US), which in May announced its (pending) acquisition of FanDuel and the combining of their operations.
“There will be 10 towers or windows with live tellers for sports betting, plus spots for parimutuel horse racing,” Settlemoir said of the physical setup of the facility, which is temporary for now and will expand by the end of August. “And two self-service terminals in there for parimutuel as well,” he added.
Settlemoir would not speak to PPB’s and FanDuel’s discussions on branding, but noted PPB’s sizable investment in FanDuel and of the company’s value.
“From an operator standpoint, the FanDuel name is totally recognizable within sports to people here in the United States,” he said.
Proximity to New York City — and Proximity to an NFL Stadium in the U.S. Unlike Ever Before.
As for geography, the Meadowlands is located in a very advantageous spot in the swamps of Jersey.
“We’re only eight miles away [from midtown Manhattan], and that really makes us, at this point in time, the only game in the area where you can make a legal sports bet,” Settlemoir said. “This is exciting and a welcome opportunity for us here.”
Previously, Jeff Gural, chairman of New Meadowlands Racetrack LLC and Tioga Downs LLC, expressed his thrill with the New York legislature’s failure to pass a bill legalizing sports wagering before the close of its session on June 20.
“New York did me such a favor by not passing sports betting,” Gural told the Associated Press in June. “That leaves me the entirety of New York City, Long Island, Westchester County. There are 15 million people that live within 20 miles (32 kilometers) of the Meadowlands. They gave me a tremendous gift.”
As as a result, the Meadowlands will stand alone in the highly-populated area at least through the football seasons and likely through March Madness in 2019.
Also in the Meadowlands’ backyard — literally — is MetLife Stadium, home of the New York Giants and New York Jets, roughly 0.4 miles away.
Another twist is that barring any oversight here, New Jersey will become the first state in which sports wagering is legal to host a regular season NFL game. While the Oakland and to-be Las Vegas Raiders have broken ground on their Nevada stadium, the Raiders will play at least one more season in California.
For our younger and/or non-northeastern readers, MetLife Stadium was formerly Giants Stadium and briefly the New Meadowlands Stadium when it opened in 2010. Both the stadium and the Meadowlands Racetrack are part of The Meadowlands Sports Complex.
As recently as December 2017, the NFL argued publicly and in the United States Supreme Court that sports wagering was a threat to the integrity of, and a scourge on their game. Meanwhile the league also held regular season contests in London, where there’s sports betting kiosks on nearly every street corner.
The NFL has since “evolved” on sports betting, put simply. Will the Giants and Jets get the league’s blessing to allow advertising of or to promote the Meadowlands sportsbook at their games?
Promotions or events would make a lot of sense, maybe informational booths during tailgating parties or game day giveaways. Settlemoir indicated that the Meadowlands is not ready to make any such announcements on that front.
“Mr. Gural and the FanDuel and Betfair personnel management have a great relationship with the guys at the stadium,” he said. “And they’re currently working with the Jets and Giants ownership, and we’ll have to see how that goes, and where we go from here.”
How the FanDuel Sportsbook Will Grow.
First of all, Meadowlands/FanDuel-branded mobile sports wagering is in works. As of July 11, as permitted by the enabling legislation signed by Governor Phil Murphy, any licensed operator may allow mobile betting. So far, none are prepared to do so, which may just mean that the Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) has not signed off on their software.
“We’re looking to try to roll that out by football season,” Settlemoir said.
Once it’s live, anyone located in the state — even temporarily, hey New Yorkers — will be able to establish and fund a sports betting account remotely via official apps or online.
And the FanDuel physical sportsbook space will expand as well.
“We’re still working on the exact square footage but it will have a much larger footprint by NFL season,” Hennessy explained. “We have plans for 65 television screens and 15 sports betting stations, making the retail location the ideal place to place bets for the upcoming NFL season and for the MLB playoffs. “
It’s not all about sports betting at the Meadowlands, though. They recognize sports betting as a distinct opportunity, but also one to introduce a new and probably younger crowd to harness or horse racing.
As for numbers, the facility is expecting big crowd on a Saturday that coincides with Meadowlands Pace Night — one of the biggest racing nights on the calendar, which Settlemoir says typically draws about 12,000-15,000 visitors.
“Hopefully the sportsbook will be able to help the horse racing side as well, exposing a completely different demographic,” he said. “People that bet sports coming here and being able to see horse racing, and hopefully we’ll see some crossover.”