Five DraftKings Casino Games That Score Big With Sports Fans

With the NFL, NBA and NHL in action, DraftKings Casino has sports-themed online table games. Here are five blackjack and roulette games worth checking out.

DraftKings built its reputation on sports — first as daily fantasy, then as a sportsbook. With the growth of DraftKings Casino, it only seems logical to have some sports-themed online table games as well.

Since launching its online casino in New Jersey in late 2018, DraftKings Sportsbook has expanded its product to other states and gone public. Online casino revenue has fueled a huge chunk of the company’s growth, despite the coronavirus-induced stoppage of major sports.

And a lot of the DraftKings-branded casino games are exclusive to the site, which means only DraftKings will have a football blackjack game.

Sports table games at DraftKings Casino

With most of the major sports in action in September, including some that usually aren’t, it seems fitting that a sportsbook like DraftKings should have a selection of sports-themed games.

And by that, we mean the games are based on traditional casino play but with a sports twist.

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Cross-selling gives DraftKings online casino an edge now that sports are back in play. But are the sports-themed games as unique as they claim?

To answer that question, NJ Gambling Sites decided to give some of those games a test run. And since the NFL is back, we’ll start with a few touchdowns.

Click on a game image below to jump to the details and gameplay. 

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1. Touchdown Blackjack

Touchdown Blackjack combines blackjack and football, with NFL franchises as the teams involved. Start on your 20-yard-line and drive down the field with wins, helped by doubling down and splits. Yardage is added somewhat randomly from hands.

Without downs, players don’t have to punt. Yardage will only be lost if the dealer hits blackjack.

The game runs on standard blackjack rules, with an eight-deck shuffle, 3:2 payout on blackjack with 2:1 on insurance. Players can bet $1 to $5,000 on the cash version, and there is a demo version to try out first.

After scoring the touchdown, players can kick extra points and restart another drive. This creates a unique spin on blackjack and, yes, will likely help distract players from the money being lost. So watch your cash flow.

2. Touchdown Roulette

This is a similarly formatted game to blackjack but on a 00 roulette board. Players can make multiple bets to move down the field.

Touchdown Roulette does have first-down yardage markers. Higher payoff bets such as single numbers yield bigger gains. Players can bet between 10 cents and $5,000. Bets can be undone before the ball starts to roll.

There are graphics to show progress with a score, down and distance, and time.

Roulette is not as straightforward in terms of gameplay as blackjack, as possession will change to the opposition.

3. Hockey Blackjack

Hey, we’re at the NHL Stanley Cup Finals, so we might as well get in some hockey.

This game has the same format as Touchdown Blackjack, with eight-deck shuffles, 3:2 blackjack playoff and 2:1 insurance. Like most casinos, the dealer hits on 16, hard or soft, and stays on 17.

Players are allotted one hand per deal. The sports games do not allow multihand play, at least in the demo.

The user interface on the DraftKings casino games is easy to operate. With a touch, bets can be doubled, changed or renewed for the next hand. During play, it’s easy to hit, stand, double down or split pairs.

Unlike Touchdown Blackjack, the main focus of Hockey Blackjack is the player’s balance. With the cash game, the amount focuses on the account balance.

4. Basketball Roulette

How’s this for a unique opener? Basketball Roulette on DraftKings Casino greets you with a welcome voiced by longtime NBA broadcaster Dick Stockton (or a very good facsimile).

There are excellent graphics and exciting sounds with the bright layout around a halfcourt with a bucket and three-point line. Each turn starts with a basketball shot, which begins the spinning wheel.

The board is a standard 00 roulette grid. Players can bet 10 cents and up on each square or possibility. Select a chip denomination to get started.

The easiest way to make new selections after each turn is to click or tap the board. That clears all previous bets and allows for new wagers.

Selecting an option again will multiply the amount bet. Computer players can click on the arrows in the top-right corner for full-screen play.

5. Basketball Blackjack

The traditional green felt of a blackjack table has been replaced once again. Basketball Blackjack features a parquet-style hardwood.

The player’s spot occupies the center court tipoff circle, while the dealer occupies inside the three-point arc. Very nice touches.

Like the other branded DraftKings blackjack games, this has shuffled eight decks, one hand per turn, and blackjack pays 3:2, with insurance paying 2:1. The dealer must hit on 16 and stand on 17.

Virtual Sports Betting Options Available At NJ Online Gambling Sites

The lack of live sports may have redefined March Madness, but what about April?

To the fans who like to have a little skin in the game, what are they to do? One of the most exciting times of the year for sports fans has turned into an utter drag, but NJ online sports betting apps are doing something to help.

Virtual sports betting

virtual sports betting

Many of New Jersey’s big online casinos and sportsbooks have started to include virtual sports to their menu of games.

Most online houses have included virtual sports betting options for NJ players to bet on round the clock. These contests usually take less time than live ones to finish.

There’s a variety of games available:

  • Most focus around racing (auto, thoroughbred, greyhound and motorcycle).
  • But some include other sports like soccer and football. 

We’ll run down some of the best options in virtual sports.

However, NJ Gambling Sites cautions that this is not an endorsement to gamble as a way to fight boredom during the coronavirus-related confinement. We always encourage responsible play.


Bet365 has the most virtual sports available and combines it with maybe the best traditional book in the state. There’s a variety of racing games and sports available.

Bet365 stands out in-depth and breadth.

European-based, its menu includes major sports across the pond, including cricket and darts. We all know how much fun watching darts can be.

Golden Nugget

One of AC’s finest jewels on the Marina District offers players a variety of options, including two horse racing options. The site also has a highly rated soccer game. 

Golden Nugget also makes these games available on mobile devices. Go through a browser or the app to get started.

Caesars online

One of the biggest and most trusted names in gaming has four racing options and one virtual soccer on its online casino.

Players who have accounts with Caesars Sportsbook can get started immediately. Don’t worry; the real Caesar won’t mind.


Anyone who watched TV or rode mass transit in the Garden State has seen the black and gold BetMGM advertising for sports betting. The lions of the desert are just as committed to a quality virtual experience.

virtual sports betting

Like rival Caesars, BetMGM offers virtual horse, greyhound, motorcycle and auto racing options, along with soccer.

If anyone has used one of the many BetMGM offers and specials from the halted seasons, it’s easy to get involved.


The original destination in AC, Resorts, celebrated 40 years of excitement last year on the Boardwalk. 

Resorts Sportsbook offers four racing and one soccer option that is available at some competitors. Fans of the online casino can log in and start playing.


While the name has changed in Philadelphia (and now is closed), the virtual lights are still on in NJ. The first online casino to add a sportsbook in August 2018 keeps the action going with virtual sports.

virtual sports betting

Betfair Casino

FanDuel Sportsbook could be the biggest name in sports betting in the Garden State, but its partner Betfair online casino has NJ bettors covered while the games are on the sidelines.

Mohegan Sun

virtual sports betting soccer betting

While it may be the best option up 95 in Connecticut, there’s no need to get in the car to get in on the action. Mohegan Sun now has online gaming in New Jersey.

  • Play soccer or watch the four racing options from the site.
  • The casino even has a quick way to flip between contests with just a click.


The gold standard in Atlantic City has continued its sterling reputation online.

Borgata online casino offers the same five virtual sports as its sister sites BetMGM and Mohegan Sun. 

Build Your NBA2K Bracket On BetMGM, Grab Your Share Of $20,000

The calendar has rolled to April, and we should have had our fill of brackets — mostly busted ones that are crumpled or torn up.

Well, that’s not the case this year. 

Yeah, it’s been fun to watch the classic games of yesteryear during the weeks of the quarantine. However, instead of replaying more 30 for 30 films, ESPN, BetMGM and the NBA will offer fans a respite: the NBA2K Players Tournament.

NBA2K Players Tournament

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Nope, it’s not for the Larry O’Brien Trophy, but it is for your share of $20,000!

This is NBA2K20, the league’s signature video game.

BetMGM will also be matching the $20K win with a $20K donation to New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund (NJPRF).

Since betting on esports is restricted in New Jersey, BetMGM has a plan for players:

  • A freeroll bracket challenge to follow the tournament that starts Friday.
  • Pits 16 top stars against each other for digital supremacy.
  • Get the most picks right to split a $20,000 pot.

NBA2K Players Tournament bracket

nba2k players tournament

Here are the 16 participants, seeded by their NBA 2K20 rating (in parentheses): 

  1. Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets (96)
  2. Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks (90)
  3. Hassan Whiteside, Portland Trail Blazers (87)
  4. Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz (87)
  5. Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns (86)
  6. Andre Drummond, Cleveland Cavaliers (85)
  7. Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls (85)
  8. Montrezl Harrell, LA Clippers (85)
  9. Domantas Sabonis, Indiana Pacers (85)
  10. Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns (85)
  11. DeMarcus Cousins (81)
  12. Michael Porter Jr., Denver Nuggets (81)
  13. Rui Hachimura, Washington Wizards (79)
  14. Patrick Beverley, LA Clippers (78)
  15. Harrison Barnes, Sacramento Kings (78)
  16. Derrick Jones Jr., Miami Heat (78)

Before the tournament begins, each contestant will select eight NBA teams.

  • Each team may be used only once.
  • Given the 15 games, it’s plausible a team may play itself.
  • Durant and Jones Jr. each selected the Nets in their eight-team pools, so that might happen right out the gate.
      • (Of course, if Durant selects the Warriors, expect to see a lot of Twitter hate and gnashing of teeth from the sheltering-in-place Bay Area).

The first round begins Friday night and concludes Sunday afternoon.

  • The quarterfinals will be Tuesday night with the Final Four happening on Saturday the 11th.
  • The first two rounds are single-elimination, the final two rounds are best-of-three.

BetMGM has your action

  1. Sign in to your account using this exclusive link (Hopefully, you took advantage of one of the many special offers.).
  2. Click the links.
  3. Fill out the bracket.
  4. Picks lock on Sunday.

Advice on strategy: Not sure any really work. If you know players who do a lot of gaming from social media or Twitch, go ahead.

Maybe Durant and Cousins have been putting in hours during their injury rehab. Like most video games, I’m partial to go with younger competitors like Trae Young. 

Hey, I’m sure I’m like many who aren’t completely sold on the idea of watching people play video games on television as a sufficient substitute for traditional entertainment.

However, this event supports needed relief work and looks like fun. Give it a shot and hopefully, no one gets injured.

NBA2K Players Tournament schedule:

Round 1

Friday, April 3: ESPN

  • 7-7:30 p.m. EST: NBA 2K Players Tournament Preview Show
  • 7:30-8:30 p.m. EST: Derrick Jones Jr. (16) vs. Kevin Durant (1)

Friday, April 3: ESPN2, 8:30-11:30 p.m. EST

Sunday, April 5: ESPN2, 12-4 p.m. EST


Tuesday, April 7: ESPN2, 7-11 p.m. EST

Semifinals and finals

Saturday, April 11: ESPN, Time to be announced.

Questions, Concerns Continue About Atlantic City Rail Line Shutdown

Days after the NJ Transit announcement of a five-month shut down of the Atlantic City Rail Line in September, many are worried about the effect on AC casinos and commuters alike.

In the days following the NJ Transit announcement of service stopping on the Atlantic City Rail Line this fall, there is still a lack of information.

Concerns are climbing that commuters and travelers will be left waiting on the platform.

NJ Transit announced Aug. 3 that it will stop the rail service between Philadelphia and AC starting Sept. 4 due to safety concerns and staffing shortages.

With two new casinos and sportsbooks popping up in AC almost weekly, this spells significant disruption of operations in the seaside resort city after the summer ends.

The rail line, the only one that directly connects Philadelphia and the Jersey Shore, includes seven local stops that allow those working in or visiting casinos to avoid traffic on local roads or tolls on the Atlantic City Expressway.

During the five-month shutdown, NJ Transit has offered to increase bus service from Lindenwold, allowing those coming from Philadelphia and Camden County to travel on PATCO and connect on the bus. The No. 554 bus route makes stops along the White Horse Pike (US-30) and will serve the towns where the train stopped.

But is that enough?

Local politicians aren’t happy

Among some politicians representing South Jersey in the New Jersey Legislature, these solutions aren’t sufficient.

Sen. Chris Brown (R-2nd District) represents Atlantic County and serves on the NJ Senate’s State Government, Wagering, Tourism, and Historic Preservation committee.

In a letter to John Del Colle, senior director of legislative relations at NJ Transit, Brown wrote:

“I believe completely shutting down and re-deploying equipment and personnel from the Atlantic City Rail Line to other parts of the State is unfair to the local, working families I represent.”

Brown’s committee helped expedite legislation that allowed sportsbooks to open this summer after the state won the US Supreme Court case that ended PASPA.

‘More time to discuss it’

Atlantic City has seen many casinos open sportsbooks during the summer or apply to open them by September. Closing the AC train line that thousands take to the casinos right before the start of college and pro football season not only hurts the handle of these books, it limits the insights and data regulators can take to alter and improve the laws that govern this experience.

Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D-1st District), who represents Cape May County and other parts of South Jersey, lamented the way NJ Transit announced this shutdown. It caught most in the state by surprise.

Van Drew, who is running for a congressional seat that includes AC and has a chance to flip the South Jersey seat, compared the process to open meetings the state’s Department of Transportation holds before road closures to inform the public and receive feedback.

“I wish we had more time to discuss it, unveil it,” Van Drew said after the announcement. Van Drew chairs the Community and Urban Affairs committee.

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Contingencies and consternations

The Atlantic City Rail Line averaged 2,150 weekly riders in 2017, according to data from NJ Transit. That number is down from 3,600 in 2009 and represents a steady decline in ridership over the years that mirrored the casino struggles in the beach resort town.

NJ Transit has offered discounts on No. 554 bus fares and plans to run it hourly. For those who have monthly passes and paper tickets, those tickets will be cross-honored on PATCO service at certain stations.

Those who use Pennsauken will get shuttled to Walter Rand in Camden, while those who frequent the Cherry Hill station will be shuttled to Woodcrest station.

These concessions all help customers who are inconvenienced by the shutdown get to the Lindenwold PATCO station to meet the bus. However, this still means taking a bus that takes almost double the time to reach AC in off-peak hours than the train running at similar times.

The train schedule says a Friday afternoon ride is about an hour from Lindenwold to AC. The same run on the No. 554 bus is scheduled for one hour and 50 minutes.

Brown expressed concerns in his letter:

“Those traveling from Atlantic County have to take the non-express No. 554 Bus, extending commutes up to two hours, without access to a restroom. Further, many commuters tell me they will not benefit from the 25% ticket discount since they are being forced to make more transfers,” he wrote.

The NJ Transit train is very convenient for those who are disabled or struggle with mobility issues. The bathrooms are accessible and the cars are single-level, unlike some lines that serve New York City.

Switching to buses makes the journey uncomfortable and longer, which will probably mean less travel to the casinos during the fall. Those who need help getting around will probably not find their ways to seats in the sportsbooks.

NJ Transit and PATCO challenges

NJ Transit partnering with PATCO creates a transition for customers who use the Camden County stations but this creates its own set of potential challenges.

The train that runs from Lindenwold to Center City in a half hour is a great way to get around South Jersey and Philadelphia. I use it myself, and it’s often reliable. However, when there are problems, it can create chaos.

Fall is a tricky time as wet leaves and downed branches can slow or stop service. The weekend schedule sees far fewer trains than the weekdays. Last fall, service was every 20 minutes on Saturday and 30 minutes on Sundays. This summer has seen frequent shifts in schedules during the day and night throughout the week.

With the return of football at Lincoln Financial Field, PATCO will shift schedules to accommodate thousands going to South Philadelphia. During rush hour, the flow of traffic serves the commuters heading into and out of Philadelphia, while those trying to reach Lindenwold will be on the other side of that unbalanced scale.

Casino workers may benefit from traveling during off-peak hours, but the disruption of routines will probably require some adjustments and potential loss of sleep.

“No doubt this will be a tremendous imposition,” said Van Drew.

And what about the shuttle buses?

For casino workers, one of the great advantages of taking the train is the shuttle buses that travel between the casinos and the station. Unlike most of the jitneys that putter around the city, these shuttles are free.

It’s a long walk from the AC Bus Terminal to the Boardwalk (not recommended). Accessing Golden Nugget and the Marina District casinos require a ride through a tunnel.

A source at NJ Transit said the service would continue from the bus station, although nothing has been formally announced. The local jitneys charge $2.25 per ride. Ride-sharing exists, but it’s very difficult to find accommodating service if you’re wheelchair-bound.

A tale of two Jerseys

The battles over the only heavy rail line that serves South Jersey magnifies some of the issues between two segments of South Jersey.

The Philadelphia suburbs often complain about the money, power, and attention wielded by those who live outside New York City.

In New Jersey, there are more than twice as many legislative districts that serve the North Jersey suburbs than South Jersey. NJ Transit operates nine lines that serve Central and North Jersey, terminating in Hoboken or New York Penn Station.

Only one of those, the Raritan Valley Line, will be affected by the safety-induced shutdowns. While there are substantially more commuters taking those lines every day, NYC is also served by the four PATH train lines and ferry services, along with the myriad bus lines that bring people to Port Authority in Midtown Manhattan.

In contrast, only one bus route connects Atlantic City to inland towns and Camden County. There’s one express bus that serves Philadelphia and Camden but that travels the AC Expressway and doesn’t visit any stops along the train line.

“We need to have transit options and we’re woefully short now,” said Van Drew.

Remember what happened at The Meadowlands

This conflict between the gaming mecca in the south and power base up north speaks to a recent sticking point, brought up last month with the opening of FanDuel Sportsbook at the Meadowlands.

Atlantic City has seen sharp decreases of revenue during the past decade from losing customers to other states opening competing casinos. The industry has shrunk with some NJ casinos closing and thousands losing their jobs.

This summer, with the advent of sports betting and the opening of Hard Rock Atlantic City and Ocean Resort, better days seem close.

While AC was down, some wanted to see a casino open at the Meadowlands. A 2016 referendum saw state voters defeat the idea by a landslide.

However, at the opening press conference in July, Meadowlands CEO Jeff Gural noted he’s still willing to invest $500 million to open a casino on the premises where he operates a racetrack and now the FanDuel Sportsbook.

NJ Transit bus service takes customers right to the entrance of the Meadowlands track.

Solutions and adjustments for the AC Rail Line

In his letter, Brown suggested the 554 bus run express service to the idle stations, especially during rush hour.

Extra service will probably help with the overflow of riders displaced from the train. It still means a longer commute versus the train with the traffic and frequent lights on the White Horse Pike.

In the fall, you have another potential hazard in the wooded areas outside Atlantic City: deer at night.

I tweeted to PATCO about this potential shift in scheduling. Here’s the conversation:

NJ Transit declined further comment, assuring further announcements will be made about the Atlantic City Rail Line shutdown.

This shutdown could prove a seismic shift in early customer activity.

Casinos who rushed in their applications to open sportsbooks planned on big crowds once football kicked off. William Hill will expand its sportsbook at Ocean Resort Casino next month, adding plenty of room for bigger crowds.

Atlantic City relies on the live experience to earn and retain business. The investments in time, energy, and capital could be scuttled by this shutdown and will certainly cost potential revenue.

But what does all this mean for you?

What does this mean to the average bettor?

Well, we have seen the start of online and mobile betting thanks to DraftKings Sportsbook. Casinos will complement their in-house sportsbooks with apps and sites sooner rather than later. And of course, NJ gambling sites are an integral part to the gambling industry in the state.

But it’s hard to get people to visit a business, let alone a city, if they can’t get there easily.

The lure of the live sportsbook experience and the amenities Atlantic City casinos can provide are useless if no one’s there to enjoy it. Winning is more enjoyable when it’s shared; losing stings slightly less (unless you’re betting against Philly teams).

It compromises the DGE’s efforts to understand player behavior and thwart any illegal activity. If a player has no better alternative, what’s to keep him from continuing to bet through Bovada or an illegal bookie?

Controversy At FanDuel Sportsbook Leads To Questions, Concerns As NFL Season Nears

A couple late MLB games lead to confusion and disgruntlement at FanDuel Sportsbook at the Meadowlands this week, but football season is just around the corner.

FanDuel’s payout problems continued to draw attention more than 24 hours following the sportsbook’s inability to cash all winning tickets Wednesday morning.

A representative from the DFS brand operating the FanDuel Sportsbook at the Meadowlands Racetrack noted the tickets were paid a day later after the book reopened. However, no changes to operating hours or payout procedures are in the works.

The payouts that occurred after operating hours remained a topic of multiple articles and Twitter conversations among the sports betting community.

The city never sleeps, but the sportsbooks do

Sixteen innings of Major League Baseball in Philadelphia was a sweet win for the Phillies but left some bettors in East Rutherford bitter.

FanDuel Sportsbook closed its vault at 1 a.m. Wednesday morning, leaving some customers unable to cash tickets. Some who had winning tickets from the Phillies-Dodgers game and other contests that ended after operating hours were instructed to bring back their tickets later. However, others were paid after the game ended at about 1:15 a.m., according to reports.

Some fans left disgruntled and took their umbrage to social media, suggesting the book was short on cash.

In response, FanDuel released this statement Wednesday afternoon:

“The FanDuel Sportsbook’s business hours of operation last night were to 1 AM, as clearly posted throughout the facility. Once 1 AM hits, our cages are closed.  We cannot take wagers or pay out wagers after that time. To be clear, there was no issue with cash on hand. All customers are welcome to return today to collect any winnings, or to mail in any winning tickets for payment.”

Extra innings and opening hours

The Phillies-Dodgers game saw a 14-minute rain delay before the first pitch, followed by 16 innings of baseball between two first-place teams.

Deadlocked at four runs until Trevor Plouffe’s 3-run homer against Kike Hernandez, those fans who had the favored Phillies and Over 8 sweated out inning after inning of offensive futility as Tuesday night became Wednesday morning.

Since opening on July 14 (a month ahead of schedule), things have gone swimmingly for the new partnership. The closest legal sportsbook to the biggest market in the nation eclipsed $1 million in bets in their first weekend and has handled more than $3 million since opening.

Late hours were considered before the book opened. FanDuel Sportsbook operates until 1 a.m. Sundays-Thursdays and until 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Those operating hours might be tested this fall when college football and pro football kicks into gear.

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Why does the FanDuel Sportsbook hiccup matter?

Anyone who’s visited a racetrack or sportsbook in another state knows what a pain it can be if you have a winning ticket but not the opportunity to cash it.

An early flight out of town means it may be weeks or months before winning tickets can get paid if you don’t lose it first. Mailing in the ticket creates another set of risks that some bettors would prefer to avoid.

Those options may be deterrents for bettors that New Jersey and other states wish to lure from underground, illegal books.

Opening sportsbooks in casinos that run games all night can create some other logistical problems.

The Borgata Race & Sports Book, for example, opens at 11 a.m. and closes at 11:30 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays and midnight Fridays and Saturdays. The book stops taking bets 30 minutes before closing. Guests who check out early may leave with their tickets and not get a chance to redeem it immediately.

Some fans have already complained about that limited accessibility:

All the attention, all the what-ifs

FanDuel Sportsbook is primed to draw visitors from around the world with its location to New York City. “The City That Never Sleeps” isn’t just a clever marketing slogan. Bars are open until 4 a.m. and shops stay open hours later than in other locations, creating a specific mindset and expectations.

Visitors who can access virtually anything they desire at all hours may be frustrated by the early closing of the sportsbook.

To those who have followed the progress of legislation and the beginning of this new frontier, optics and communication with this incident magnify the problem and how far the books have to go.

This was a midweek baseball game in July. It was the Phillies in North Jersey, not South Jersey. The few winning tickets could have been far more if it were Yankees-Red Sox or a marquee NFL matchup in the fall.

Just a wrinkle to be ironed out

No reports have come out suggesting the FanDuel staff notified players they may have to leave with their tickets as the innings piled up. For a book that opened a month before initially planned, this is a growing pain but this one could hurt more than others.

The NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement has not commented on the situation. It’s not certain they’ll release a formal report either.

However, as the summer days roll by and NJ sports betting gets bigger and bigger, this is not the time to be idle. Two weeks from now will be the full start of the NFL preseason. Interest, money, and scrutiny will multiply. This will test the preparedness of the sportsbooks and the state’s oversight.

The success of these endeavors and the proliferation of legal sports betting in the Garden State and elsewhere may depend upon the first weekends of August and September.

If this incident creates new logistics and better communications, that could do a lot to win new supporters and customers. If so, we’ll recall that old Springsteen lyric: “One day we’ll look back at this and it will all seem funny.”

NJ Sports Betting Bill Passes Both Chambers, Heads To Governor’s Desk

New Jersey lawmakers put the finishing touches on NJ sports betting regulations. The Assembly and Senate passed the same bill unanimously. All that’s left is for the governor to sign it into law.

After a few technical difficulties and delays, New Jersey lawmakers put the finishing touches on NJ sports betting regulations. The Assembly and Senate both passed the same bill unanimously on Thursday.

All that’s left is for Gov. Phil Murphy to sign it into law. Once he signs it, NJ sports betting will be up and running.

Two sessions in one day end with the same result

After briskly passing a series of bills, the Assembly recessed to consider amendments for the sports betting legislation. The chamber buzzed with discussion of the proposals.

After over an hour delay, the chamber reconvened.The NJ Assembly passed the amended bill A4111 by 73-0 to applause on Thursday afternoon, allowing casinos and racetracks to open sportsbooks.

“It was the people of New Jersey who by public referendum [in 2011] voted to change the Constitution, saying that they wanted to be able to bet on sports legally,” said Assemblymember John Burzichelli (D-Gloucester), one of the bill’s sponsors, after the vote. “The Legislature has taken that direction and today, with the support of the United States Supreme Court, we have passed the regulatory structure that will allow sports gaming in New Jersey to be conducted.”

The Senate bill was substituted entirely by the Assembly version, which had been amended before passage. Both chambers needed to approve the same language for the bill to pass in full.

Once again, the vote was unanimous.

What happened in the NJ Legislature

Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling moved to have the bill introduced as an emergency, which passed 71-0. He spoke of the bill glowingly, including how it would return jobs to the struggling casinos and racetracks.

Assemblyman Anthony Bucco rose to suggest the bill be sent back to committee to amend the legislation and allow more money for tax rebates. That motion was tabled by a 45-21 vote.

Shortly after that, Assemblyman Ralph Caputo recounted the yearslong battle that saw the bill reach this stage.

“I can’t stress enough how big of a boost this will bring to our state’s economy,” said Caputo (D-Essex). “Sports gambling has been going on for so long, and now the state can finally regulate this activity and reap some of the revenue so we can fund programs which will benefit all of our residents, including those who need it most. This will bring jobs back to New Jersey and contribute to the revitalization of Atlantic City. This is a big win.”

He also took part of his speech to recognize the efforts of former state Sen. Ray Lesniak, who received applause from the chamber. Lesniak told reporters he seeks to make the first bet at Monmouth Park, which hopes to open before Murphy signs the bill into law, on the New York Giants to win the Super Bowl, currently listed at 40-1 odds.

On Monday, during the Tourism, Gaming and the Arts committee hearing, Caputo asked the league officials to remunerate New Jersey for the $9 million they spent fighting for legal sports betting. The legal battle ended May 14 in the Supreme Court decision that overturned PASPA. Caputo referenced that comment again during Thursday’s session.

In the end, both chambers moved the bill forward.

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What about a Golden Nugget sportsbook?

One of the amendments to the NJ sports betting bill cleared the path for casinos linked to sports leagues, such as Golden Nugget, to open sportsbooks. However, the sportsbook is not allowed to offer wagers on the leagues in which those teams participate.

What this means is that a Golden Nugget sportsbook can exist, but it won’t be able to take bets on any NBA games.

This provision is stricter than those in Las Vegas, where Tilman Fertitta’s Golden Nugget can take action on the NBA but not Houston Rockets’ games. (Fertitta owns the Houston franchise.)

The amendment was good news for Golden Nugget AC’s general manager, Tom Pohlman:

“We are grateful to the legislature for listening to our concerns and including the Golden Nugget in the sports betting legislation. We look forward to taking our first bets on professional and college football, baseball, college basketball, soccer, hockey, MMA, etc. While we recognize that today the legislation will prohibit us from accepting wagers solely on the NBA, we hope to persuade the lawmakers over time that the total NBA ban is unnecessary and should be limited simply to the Houston Rockets team owned by Mr. Fertitta.”

Murphy’s signature on the bill has not been guaranteed. There is speculation that Murphy could withhold his signature while budget negotiations continue.

Burzichelli noted without a regulatory restriction the books could open today with the governor’s signature. However, the casinos will need licenses to operate and take wagers.

He also speculated a book could open on the grounds of the former Garden State racetrack in Cherry Hill. The sprawling shopping plaza could accommodate at least one book and offer attractive options to those traveling from Philadelphia.