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Volume 25 No. 6

Sports in Society

Monmouth Park officials said that they are "delaying the launch of sports betting at the request of state lawmakers, scuttling work to begin taking wagers on sports such as baseball and basketball on May 28," according to a front-page piece by Falk & Racioppi of the ASBURY PARK PRESS. The track will instead "only conduct ceremonial wagering that day, with plans to have Gov. Phil Murphy and other politicians participating." Monmouth Park Racetrack operator Dennis Drazin said that the decision to delay opening sports betting to the public "was made in consultation with Senate President Stephen Sweeney." Drazin said that Sweeney "asked for time to allow lawmakers to establish regulations for the new venture." Sweeney in a statement issued by his office "promised to 'move quickly to get the law in place.'" Sweeney: "I expect to have the sports betting legislation approved by the Senate at our next session on June 7th so that sports gaming in New Jersey is up and running as soon as the governor signs the bill" (ASBURY PARK PRESS, 5/17). In Newark, Arco & Johnson in a front-page piece report anyone who "opens a sports betting operation before the state puts regulations in place will be barred from accepting future bets on games" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 5/17). Arco & Johnson in a separate piece report some Atlantic City casinos -- like Borgata and the new Hard Rock -- have "begun prepping sports betting operations," but they are "waiting for state regulations before launching." The Assembly's next voting session is May 24. Both the state Senate and Assembly version of the bills would impose an 8% tax on the "revenue that casinos and tracks pull in from sports betting" and a 12.5% tax on "online bets." But there are "some differences" between the two bills (NJ.com, 5/17).

RACE FOR EXPANSION: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Kirkham & Hufford report businesses on both sides of the Atlantic are "working to launch or expand U.S. operations, hoping to get a piece of what could be a multibillion-dollar industry." Ireland-based bookmaker Paddy Power Betfair yesterday said that it is "in talks to merge its U.S. business with FanDuel." Churchill Downs yesterday also said that it is "planning to expand its sports-betting business." That came "on the heels of similar announcements from casino operators, including Caesars Entertainment." PPB has "already been in the U.S. market for years, operating a horse-racing TV channel and related online betting." The company "also runs an online casino in New Jersey." PPB U.S. CEO Kip Levin said that his company "plans to move quickly into the New Jersey market, and expects to be offering wagers" on NFL games this fall. Meanwhile, Churchill Downs said that it would "enter online-gambling and sports-betting markets in New Jersey and Pennsylvania." The company is "working with sports-betting technology company SBTech to develop mobile apps and a website, and it is joining with the Golden Nugget Atlantic City casino to enter New Jersey's market." Horse racing has "historically had fewer restrictions on betting than other sporting events." Churchill Downs said that it "expects to begin accepting online wagers" in Q1 of '19, "subject to sports-wagering legislation and gambling-license approvals" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/17). In Lexington, Janet Patton reports Churchill Downs "already has the online infrastructure" for sports betting in place with TwinSpires.com. That will be "expanded with a strategic partnership with SBTech to provide an iGaming platform, including the consumer website, mobile apps and back office systems to manage the only gambling and sports betting under the TwinSpires.com brand." Churchill Downs also "plans to launch iGaming and sports betting in Pennsylvania, which also has already approved it, and to launch sports betting in Mississippi" (LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER, 5/17).

WATCHDOG NEEDED: In St. Louis, Benjamin Hochman writes sports leagues and gambling establishments naturally will "meticulously monitor bets, but to get this right, there should be an independent watchdog, the way the Securities and Exchange Commission regulates the securities industry and stock market." There will be "so many bets -- seemingly innumerable -- and depending on whether it's state-by-state or nationally run, different parameters." The speed of the action "cannot overwhelm those monitoring it -- the watchdogs must hound every underdog." It is "imperative that any bad apple is neutralized by an intimidating, independent watchdog" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 5/17).