July 15 targeted for Big M sportsbook opening
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Meadowlands owner Jeff Gural and general manager/CEO Jason Settlemoir were in Atlantic City on Wednesday and Thursday this week attending the East Coast Gaming Congress at Harrah's Casino & Hotel, and the two are back in Atlantic City on Friday morning for a meeting with the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement as they prepare for what they hope is a July 15 opening of the sportsbook at the Meadowlands.
"Jeff told the governor yesterday that we hope to open July 15, pending regulatory approval, so that's why we are back down here today," Settlemoir told harnessracing.com early Friday morning. "With us too are officials from Betfair US (which will operate the sportsbook at the Meadowlands)."
Sports betting was the predominant topic during the two-day Gaming Congress, with Thursday also being the first day sports wagering was offered in New Jersey. Monmouth Park Thoroughbred racetrack and the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa opened their sportsbooks one month to the day after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of New Jersey's lawsuit challenging the 26-year federal ban on sports wagering in all but four states. Delaware, one of those four states, had been offering only multi-game parlay wagers on NFL games, began full sports wagering on June 5.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy was at Monmouth Park for its opening and got things underway when he wagered $20 on Germany to win the World Cup and $20 on the New Jersey Devils to win the 2019 Stanley Cup. The first wagers placed at Borgata were by basketball Hall of Famer Julius "Dr. J." Erving and New Jersey Senate president Steve Sweeney, who respectively wagered $5 on the Philadelphia Eagles and $200 on the Green Bay Packers to win the 2019 Super Bowl.
As for the Meadowlands, Settlemoir admits he is favoring one specific site to become the Big M's sportsbook.
"There is a sports lounge area outside the Race World (Teletheater), and of course the Victory Sports Bar is one of the locations that we are looking at putting in the sports betting," said Settlemoir. "That site is obviously ideal for sports wagering. Victory Sports Bar is one of the nicest places in New Jersey to be able to watch a sporting event, so it would only make sense."
Settlemoir said he hopes the regulatory process moves smoothly and quickly.
"This will all depend on how quickly regulatory approvals are gathered," he said. "This is something we've been looking forward to for a long time. It's the beginning of an exciting era."