The New Jersey state legislature on Thursday unanimously passed bills legalizing sports betting in the state. And as the state that brought the lawsuit that resulted in the Supreme Court striking down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, it would have seemed that the governor would sign it immediately and legal sports betting could begin.
But two days later, and Governor Phil Murphy still hasn’t signed the bill. According to reporter John Brennan, Monmouth Park could start taking sports bets anyway. But it won’t, respectfully waiting for Murphy to sign the bill.
re Monmouth Park: it COULD legally offer sports bets on Fri, even with no bill signed into law (bec current state law from 2014 privatized oversight). but it won't, instead awaiting go-ahead from @GovMurphy pic.twitter.com/5u0JOtWjBP
— John Brennan (@BergenBrennan) June 7, 2018
Brennan is referring to the fact that both the General Assembly and Senate bills passed after language penalizing casinos and racetracks for offering sports betting before the governor gave his blessing was removed. But on Friday, the state gaming commission warned that operators who offered sports betting before the governor made it legal would face disciplinary action.
Is New Jersey Gov. Murphy Playing Politics? Or Being Lobbied by the Pro Leagues? Whatever the Reason, He Seems in No Rush to Make NJ Sports Betting Legal.
So, what’s the holdup? That’s a good question. The bills passed unanimously in both the Assembly and the Senate on Thursday. New Jersey and Monmouth Park have been at the forefront of fighting for sports betting to become a state-by-state decision. And yet here we are, waiting for the governor’s signature.
Murphy held a news conference on Friday during which he insisted “we want to make sure we do it right. We just got the bill. We’re going through it, and we’re not gonna sit on it.”
It seems like someone is playing politics here, even though Murphy all but insists he isn’t.
New Jersey has been chasing after legal sports betting for nearly a decade. And state lawmakers certainly didn’t hastily draw up legislation. They’ve been refining their bills for months, crafting a law that would be acceptable to all. (Except maybe the professional leagues, who aren’t getting their “integrity fee” in New Jersey.)
There are plenty of thoughts out there about Murphy’s slow reaction time. Consider:
— Jimmy Margulies (@JimmyMargulies) June 7, 2018
Absolutely dead-bolt lock the Leagues are lobbying Murphy to “conditionally veto” the bill so that an integrity fee can be added. Maybe you should start calling the NJ gov’s office to object to that https://t.co/oJgjYQjow1
— Joe Brennan Jr (@joebrennanjr) June 8, 2018
And sports bettors are getting annoyed.
— JERSEYKIDPICKS (@JerseyKidPicks) June 8, 2018
In addition to the governor’s odd reaction – he said he’s excited and wants to place the first New Jersey sports bet, but is dragging his feet – there is the obvious issue of lost revenue by waiting.
This weekend, sports bettors could have laid down money, which would translate into taxable revenue, on two major sporting events, including the Belmont Stakes, which could produce a Triple Crown winner and Game 4 of the NBA Finals (which the Golden State Warriors won Friday), as well as baseball’s Subway Series, featuring the Yankees and Mets.
No matter the reason for the holdup, Murphy sure seems like he’s flexing his political muscle. And it’s not a good look.