The Supreme Court on Monday struck down a federal ban on sports gambling, giving states the opportunity to decide whether to legalize the vice that many Americans take part in either in Las Vegas or through third-party apps and websites off shore.
The move has major implications for professional and college sports around the U.S., but more so for places like Atlantic City, N.J., where some of the country’s most popular casinos have struggled to reel in new and keep old customers after the 2009 recession. With 2017 profits up more than 20 percent and two new casinos joining the Atlantic City boardwalk, New Jersey potentially legalizing sports gambling should be seen as an enormous potential boon for the industry.
I have never wagered a bet on a sporting event outside daily fantasy sports. I have been to Las Vegas and have been in the thick of the first two rounds of March Madness. There is definitely an appeal there — sports betting keeps the average fan interested on a random Nos. 7 vs 10 matchup in between rooting for a No. 14 to take down a No. 3 because the book gave them seven points. Also, the setup of some of these sports books is intoxicating. Twenty five screens with all the sports you can ever imagine. It’s a fan’s dream. The ambiance of a mega sports bar at the disposal of Atlantic City’s soon-to-be nine casinos is something that would draw the gambler back from Pennsylvania into Resorts or Borgata.
Former New Jersey state Sen. Raymond Lesniak, D-Union, said it best Monday when he applauded the High Court’s ruling.
“This will attract a younger generation of folks to go to Atlantic City and stay there,” he told NJ.com, adding that the decision was “a savior for casinos and racetracks. Not just for hours to play the slots, but to watch the sporting events. Throughout the year. They’ll dine there. They’ll rent rooms there. Shop there. The same thing for the racetracks. It will bring activity and revenue to racetracks.”
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said he looked forward to working with the state Legislature in enacting a sports gambling law.
“I am thrilled to see the Supreme Court finally side with New Jersey and strike down the arbitrary ban on sports betting imposed by Congress decades ago,” he said. “I look forward to working with the Legislature to enact a law authorizing and regulating sports betting in the very near future.”
Lawmakers and gaming regulators are clearly seeing green when it comes to the ruling. Nevada sports books in 2016 took in $219.2 million in revenue, the Press of Atlantic City reported, citing a report from the University of Nevada Las Vegas’ Center for Gaming Research. Oxford Economics Research also said that illegal sports betting brings in nearly $150 billion. Imagine what Atlantic City could become, using the money wisely, from sports gambling. It could turn A.C. into the premiere vacation destination again.
The clock is now ticking in Trenton. It’s obvious there is bipartisan support for sports gambling in New Jersey. The money grab is there as well. This could turn into a huge play for New Jersey, if they play their cards right.
More on the SCOTUS ruling can be heard on “The Sports Brunch” with Joe Caputo and Chris Molicki on Tuesday night (May 15).