New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy owned up to his bad bets.
Nearly a year to the day after he placed the first legal bets in New Jersey at Monmouth Park, he gave the keynote speech at the 23rd annual East Coast Gaming Congress at Harrah’s Waterfront Conference Center.
Murphy, who signed the NJ sports betting bill into law, received a standing ovation from the audience at last week’s event.
After his welcoming remarks, he noted the first anniversary of sports betting in NJ and his two losing wagers: a $20 bet on the New Jersey Devils to win the Stanley Cup and a $20 bet on Germany to win the World Cup.
But Murphy is still all-in on Atlantic City and the continued growth of sports betting.
“Across the board, we have seen significant increases in key economic indicators that show Atlantic City is up off the mat and well moving forward,” he said.
“The emergence of sports betting has played a tremendous role in the rejuvenation of our gaming industry.”
Murphy gives credit where credit is due
Atlantic City casino revenues spiked 7.5% to $2.86 billion in 2018. It marks the third year in a row for the industry coming off a decade of decline.
The first six months of sports betting yielded NJ operators almost $100 million in revenue.
But Murphy gave credit to the renewed support of key industry partners, development partners, and a strong regulatory culture for moving Atlantic City forward.
“We don’t view our agencies as just industry regulators even though that is an essential part of their jobs,” he said.
“We want our agencies to use proactive outreach to encourage regulatory product and technological innovation throughout our gaming industry. We want to be the home where the next generation of games and the technological advancement to open up the industry will be made.”
But it’s not just gaming in AC
Murphy also stressed the importance of the work of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority.
The CRDA is operating with a mindset that Atlantic City’s casino gaming industry can’t fully succeed unless it finds a city that is also prospering.
The goal is to create stronger, more welcoming neighborhoods.
For example, Atlantic City is considered to be a “food desert.”
On May 30, the CRDA announced a formal request for proposal for both a grocery store developer and operator to better provide food and nutritional options to residents and families.
“We can’t just look at Atlantic City as the home of casinos and hotel properties and a wide white sandy beautiful beach,” said Murphy.
“We want this to be a diverse city with a thriving business that creates a complete draw for tourists while also providing new economic opportunities for the residents of the state who fought through some really dark times.”