One Year Ago, New Jersey’s Dreams Came True At Monmouth’s William Hill Sportsbook

June 14 is the date Monmouth Park and William Hill officially launched NJ sports betting together. The companies reflect on the past year and new plans.

It was June 14 of last year when New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy made the first legal sports wager in Garden State history:

  • $20 on Germany to win the 2019 World Cup 
  • $20 on the New Jersey Devils to win the 2019 Stanley Cup

Neither of those bets panned out. But that betting slip, coupled with years of legal battles, put Monmouth Park in the NJ sports betting history books for good.

The governor is invited once again to the Monmouth Park Sportsbook by William Hill this Friday (yep, June 14) to take part in the one-year anniversary toast to legal sports betting.

It is not known, however, if Murphy will actually make an appearance. But Dennis Drazin, chairman and CEO of Darby Development — the company that operates Monmouth Park — will definitely be there.

When Drazin reflects on the past year, June 14 is one of those days that is hard to forget.

“The highlight for me was having Gov. Murphy come and make the first sports bet at Monmouth Park and turning around and seeing a huge crowd of standing room only people.

“It was like a dream come true.”

The Monmouth Park + William Hill connection

Dreams can take a very long time to come true.

In New Jersey’s case, it took nearly seven years in and out of courts to get the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) overturned. The case went before the US Supreme Court on Dec. 4, 2017.

Without hesitation, Drazin picked up his bags and traveled to Washington, DC, to be there for the hearing. (The ruling wasn’t announced until May 14, 2018.)

But behind the scenes, the racetrack and partner William Hill were hard at work developing their plans. Monmouth reached a partnership agreement with the London-based bookmaker back in 2012.

That was long before any hope of legal sports betting in the state. Even so, William Hill and Drazin started planning.

The idea was simple: Convert a cafeteria into a 4,000-square-foot space with seating for 300 people. But in reality, the space needed to be bigger, and both companies realized it.

So they added an auxiliary space in the grandstand (a tad over 4,500 square feet.)

Looking back, Joe Asher, CEO at William Hill US, said building out the auxiliary space was definitely the right decision.

“The sportsbook itself was completely packed. You couldn’t really get in there,” Asher said. “Everybody was hanging out in there. It was great. It was a fun day.”

Here’s a look back at Murphy’s first official bets courtesy of NJ.com.

Being the first for NJ sports betting

But how did Monmouth Park, a racetrack in Central New Jersey, beat out nine Atlantic City casinos?

The market-leading FanDuel Sportsbook at the Meadowlands Racetrack, located just outside of New York City, didn’t open until July 14.

Putting plans in place several years in advance is always a good start, but there is more to the story.

Drazin noted there was initial hesitation by the other parties involved because they were licensed to operate in other states.

“They were concerned if they did something under state law that conflicted with federal law they could find themselves with regulatory problems in their states.”

Monmouth Park, on the other hand, only operates in the Garden State.

“They all sort of sat back and said, ‘We’ll let MonmouthPark be the test case for this.’ … By the time we got to the Supreme Court decision, we were probably in this for $5 million.”

This included building out the facility and getting ready to launch.

The Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa was the only AC casino that was ready to go on June 14.

Instead of building a new sportsbook, the MGM-owned property added a temporary sportsbook to its previously existing racebook. The Moneyline Bar & Book, the much-anticipated permanent location, is opening on June 29.

The law allows casinos and racetracks to open temporary sportsbooks with a 270-day window to build out the spaces.

So Drazin had no problem with Monmouth Park being the first out of the gate.

“I think the state recognized my role, Monmouth Park’s role, in getting this done, so they wanted us to be first. They certainly cooperated to make it happen,” Drazin said.

And William Hill was betting on New Jersey

Monmouth Park is where William Hill got its sports betting start in NJ, but it’s crystal clear the sports betting giant is investing heavily in the Garden State.

Offices are set up in Jersey City and Monmouth Park, and the mobile app launched on Sept. 1, 2018.

Plus, we can’t forget about the two additional retail spots on the Atlantic City Boardwalk.

The 7,500-square-foot sportsbook at Ocean Casino Resort has been open since June 28 — the same day as the property.

The temporary space at the Tropicana opened on Oct. 25 of last year. The swanky new space is 5,000 square feet and has been open since early March.

Asher noted New Jersey is an important market because it’s located in a heavily populated area of the country. And keep in mind, neighboring New York is still in pre-launch phase for sports betting, and it’s retail only, for now.

monmouth william hill sports betting nj

Keeping score with Monmouth’s online skins

Pretty soon, Monmouth Park will be the latest license holder to have all three of its online skins slots filled.

TheScore from Bet.Works is expected to launch sometime before football season, possibly as soon as Aug. 1, according to Drazin.

SugarHouse NJ sportsbook, which recently launched in PA, moved over from the Golden Nugget in October (following its late August launch) in order to offer NBA betting.

William Hill got its US mobile sports betting start in Nevada first. But the NJ version launched just fine for Android devices while iOS users experienced a slight delay.

And as a result, William Hill pulled its promotional advertising.

“It’s important to remember there was a big issue with Apple approving the sports betting app. You could add sports betting mobile, but if you didn’t have an app in the store you got held up.”

But overall, Asher said they feel pretty good about where the app is through the first nine months.

“The result was we weren’t able to launch on Apple until the end of September. … [But] we feel pretty good about what we were able to do based on the realities of the situation. We will continue to grow.”

Sports betting brings horse racing back to life

Yes, mobile sports betting has taken much of the spotlight over the past year, but Monmouth Park is one of three remaining New Jersey racetracks.

The others are of course the Meadowlands and Freehold Raceway, the latter of which has yet to announce its sports betting plans.

Drazin has been around horse racing since his childhood days and has held numerous roles in the industry leading up to his current role at Monmouth.

He has seen the track through the best and worst of times. Believe it or not, thanks to legal sports gambling, it looks like horse racing is here to stay.

When people used to ask Drazin why he took an active role in the fight against getting PASPA overturned, his reasoning was simple:

“I am doing this to save an industry. I want Monmouth Park to be here for forever. I want your grandchildren and their children to come out and enjoy everything that is so important to all of us in terms of horse racing and what it means to the state, and to our lives.

“I think we’ve accomplished that. Monmouth Park is no longer in jeopardy of closing down. We’re on solid financial footing.”

Haskell Invitational + Maximum Security

Speaking of horse racing, there is a pretty big one taking place at Monmouth Park later this summer. The Haskell Invitational (the signature event) is on July 20, and Maximum Security is expected to be favored.

Yes, we are talking about the same Maximum Security that was disqualified from this year’s Kentucky Derby. He is currently living and training at Monmouth.

The excitement is building months in advance, and a crowd in excess of 35,000 to 40,000 could be there for race day.

In terms of the controversy surrounding Maximum Security, Drazin weighs in:

“He is probably the best horse in the country, bar none. 

“He crossed the finish line first at the Derby, although there is some controversy about the disqualification. There is no one I know of in racing that doesn’t believe that he was the best horse in racing that day.”

And the addition of sports betting has livened things up around the racetrack. Drazin said the horse bettors have dabbled in sports betting, creating a natural crossover.

“It makes your whole venue [feel] alive,” he said.

“Before it was how do we get people to come back out to the racetrack because we do live racing May through October. Now it’s become different. You have people in the facility all year round.”

Monmouth has its eyes on the future

Friday may be the big anniversary day for sports betting, but Monmouth Park and William Hill are eyeing the future.

Instead of resting on their laurels, plans are in the works for an expanded sports betting facility in the clubhouse area.

The specifics are still in the planning stages, but Drazin used the words “upscale Vegas-type venue” to describe the space. It will include a food and beverage component with comfortable seating.

In terms of Monmouth Park’s current setup, Asher wasted little time passing credit Drazin’s way:

“He doesn’t nearly get the recognition he deserves as the guy who really made it happen.

“It’s been a great relationship. The sportsbook has done well, [not just] from a betting volume perspective but from a social perspective, giving folks in the area a place to come and hang out and enjoy the games. You can’t beat it during a busy time on the sports calendar.”

Meadowlands, Monmouth Plan Super Bowl 2019 Parties For NJ Sports Betting Fans

The FanDuel Sportsbook At Meadowlands and William Hill sportsbook at Monmouth have big plans for a busy day of sports betting during 2019 Super Bowl.

Not to be outdone by their Atlantic City sports betting colleagues, Meadowlands Racetrack and Monmouth Park are planning their own Super Bowl 2019 festivities.

FanDuel Sportsbook at the Meadowlands Racetrack and the Monmouth Park Sports Book by William Hill are getting ready for what they expect to be their busiest sports betting day since their respective summer openings.

Super Bowl LIII kicks off Feb. 3 in Atlanta.

Besides taking parlay, moneyline, straight and special prop bets, both New Jersey racetracks have special Big Game festivities planned.

Call it a little-added fun to the NJ sports betting experience.

For those in New York City, where sports betting legislation remains a work in progress, the Meadowlands Racetrack offers a much shorter commute than say a trip to Atlantic City.

Monmouth Park, located in Central New Jersey, is a little more than an hour away from the Big Apple.

NJ racetracks and their Super Bowl 2019 plans

In terms of NJ retail sports betting revenue, the two racetracks continue to set the pace ahead of Atlantic City casinos.

FanDuel Sportsbook is the king of the mountain. The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement released its December numbers earlier this month, and it showed that the property generated $3,577,177William Hill was in second place with $1,031,336.

So drawing a sports betting audience will not be a problem on Super Bowl Sunday.

For those unfamiliar with the two NJ racetracks, here is a rundown of what both have on hand.

Meadowlands Racetrack

Sports Betting Scene: The FanDuel Sportsbook, with its 50-plus HD TVs, is opening at 8 a.m. on game day.

The 5,300-square-foot space can hold about 500 people. The 20 sports betting stations, VIP area, and a variety of seating options make it among the best in NJ for watching the Super Bowl.

Where to Hang: The Big Game Tailgate Party & Buffet is free to enter (parking, too). The buffet will be set up in the upstairs lounge and is $34.95 per person (not including tax and gratuity). It will be available from 4-8 p.m.

Chili with nachos and cornbread, buffalo wings with blue cheese, cheeseburger and hamburger sliders, mixed green salad, cookies and brownies are just some of the menu items.

Group reservations can be made by calling 201-THE-BIGM.

Monmouth Park

Sports Betting Scene: Monmouth Park is where the first legal sports bet in New Jersey took place back in June. The William Hill-operated space features 15 betting windows, an integrated sports bar, and more than 40 HD TVs.

Where to Hang: Monmouth Park is hosting a Big Game Party of its own inside the Turf Club. It’s being billed as “our biggest party yet.”

The $85 all-in ticket includes tailgate favorites, a halftime buffet, and four drink tickets. Tickets are only available online and can be purchased via the Monmouth Park website.

NJ online sports betting options, too

Of course, you can visit the NJ racetracks during Super Bowl 2019 and place your bets via the mobile apps, too. That way, you won’t miss out on all the food and fun.

Online sportsbooks have land-based partnerships in place with both racetracks, so placing a bet can be as simple as a couple clicks on your iOS or Android device.

Meadowlands Racetrack is partnered with FanDuel (of course) but also PointsBet, one of the newer sportsbook apps available in the NJ online sports betting market.

PointsBet’s claim to fame is Points Betting, a unique way to place a bet on sports based on points earned and points lost. However, PointsBet, for now, is only available via browser and an iOS app.

Monmouth is partnered with William Hill NJ but also is the license used by SugarHouse Sportsbook. The online sportsbook is powered by Kambi and is available on iOS and Android.

SugarHouse online casino uses the Golden Nugget license, but its sportsbook app switched to Monmouth in October.

Bottom line, you can take a quick drive south from NYC to bet on the Big Game legally. And enjoy a few parties and deals in the process. Not a bad way to spend Super Bowl Sunday.

Monmouth ‘Takes An L’ In NJ Sports Betting Lawsuit Against Leagues, But Plans To Appeal

On Nov. 16, a US District Court ruled against Monmouth in its NJ sports betting suit against the major sports leagues. But the racetrack plans to appeal.

After months of unabated success and expansion, an NJ sports betting advocate has finally hit a roadblock.

On Nov. 16, US District Court Judge Michael Shipp ruled against Monmouth Park and the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, in its suit against the major sports leagues.

The lawsuit stemmed from a 2014 injunction issued by the very same judge. The racetrack says it will appeal the judge’s ruling.

How the latest lawsuit came to be

New Jersey technically legalized sports betting in 2012.

Then-Gov. Chris Chris Christie authorized a bill that would allow sports betting at New Jersey’s casinos and racetracks.

Two years later, Monmouth Park was ready to open a sportsbook with partner William Hill.

However, the sports leagues sued for injunctive relief under PASPA, and Shipp issued a restraining order for the racetrack until the suit’s resolution.

That resolution only came with PASPA’s dismissal in May 2018. Monmouth Park made the argument that it had lost revenue during that period unnecessarily, and demanded that the leagues compensate it for the loss.

How much was Monmouth Park seeking?

The amount in question was no mere pittance either.

Extrapolating from the bond figure that the judge required from the leagues in the initial hearing period for the suit, the track figured its losses to be about $850,000 per week.

Applying that estimate to the number of weeks between the restraining order and PASPA’s dismissal causes the resulting damages to exceed $150 million.

So, understandably, the leagues chose to contest the suit. What followed was a war of words between the two sides during the initial few weeks.

But last week, the judge agreed with the leagues.

In his ruling, obtained by ESPN, the court ruled:

“The Court … finds NJTHA was not wrongfully enjoined. The Court, accordingly, finds good cause exists to deny NJTHA damages under the injunction bond.”

How NJ sports betting looks at Monmouth now

Since Monmouth opened its sportsbook in June, its land-based and online sports betting revenues have combined to earn about $7.46 million. While not the highest in the market, it is no small bit of change.

The online wagering revenue comes from Monmouth’s partnership with William Hill NJ. That online sportsbook opened in September.

So the state’s revenue numbers from the first four months of NJ sports betting tell a different story about the track’s revenues.

On a weekly basis, Monmouth is earning just under $373,000 per week on sports betting. Unfortunately, that figure is less than half Monmouth’s alleged weekly losses.

It remains to be seen what will happen as Monmouth appeal’s the court’s decision.

New Bill Would OK Wagering On Historical Horse Racing In New Jersey

An introduced bill in the New Jersey Assembly would allow racetracks and off-track wagering sites to offer wagers on horse racing based on historical data.

As gambling continues to expand and become part of the infrastructure of New Jersey, a new proposed bill could push the boundaries even further.

Sponsored by Assemblyman Ronald S. Dancer and Assemblywoman  Valerie Vainieri Huttle, the bill would amend the state constitution to allow wagering on previously recorded horse races.

Introduced to the New Jersey Assembly Tourism, Gaming and the Arts Committee on Oct. 18, the proposed bill would authorize such action at racetracks and off-track wagering facilities.

A closer look at the proposed New Jersey bill

The introduced bill would amend Article IV, Section VII, paragraph 2 of the state constitution.

First and foremost, and atop the proposed bill: “No gambling of any kind shall be authorized by the Legislature unless the specific kind, restrictions and control thereof have been heretofore” presented and approved by the public.

Upon approval, the state will have the authorization to green-light establishments to conduct historical horse racing operations at licensed racetracks and at off-track wagering facilities. Those wagers, per the bill, can be placed in-person or remotely.

According to the NJ Racing Commission, New Jersey features 10 properties eligible to offer historical horse race wagering:

  • Borgata
  • Freehold Raceway
  • Meadowlands Racetrack
  • Monmouth Park
  • Favorites (at Egg Harbor, Hillsborough, Gloucester, Toms River, and Woodbridge)
  • Winners Bayonne

The state would tax revenue “solely for the purpose” of reducing property taxes, rental, telephone, gas, electric, and municipal utility charges of eligible senior citizens and disabled veterans.

In addition, taxed revenue would be used to expand health services, benefits or transportation services for the same demographic.

How historical horse racing works

The first practice of historical horse racing cropped up in Arkansas in 1999. And that concept has since become the template.

In essence, historical racing machines use a database of 25,000 race results. Every few minutes, the machine generates a race on which bettors may wager.

Some information on the race is divulged, such as odds and previous results by horses. Other than that, fiction takes over. Not provided are horse names, what jockeys are riding, or what tracks on which the races take place.

After betting, the races take off, using either video clips or digital representation to display the action.

As a result of the fast turnover of races, tracks and off-track facilities can offer a multitude of betting options rather than a select few REAL horse races that take place sparingly — and with lengthy between-race intervals, to boot.

Adding to expanded gambling

Already New Jersey has begun to reap the rewards of a variety of legalized gambling options.

In September, for example, Atlantic City casinos combined for the second-biggest month of NJ online gambling revenue in the five-year history of the industry.

Not to be outdone, NJ sports betting generated $24 million last month from $184 million in handle. Those numbers reflected vast increases from August’s totals. August stood at $95 million in handle and about $9 million in revenue.

With the popularity of live horse racing on the decline, offering historical horse race wagering could become another source of revenue.

Feeling The Pinch, Monmouth ‘Confident’ It Will Kick Off Online Sports Betting By Football

Monmouth Park was the first venue in New Jersey to accept sports wagers following the repeal of PASPA. Yet, the racetrack is falling behind in the race to launch NJ online sports betting.

“I’m fairly confident we can get open by the start of football season.”

That was the response Dennis Drazin, the chairman and CEO of Darby Development LLC, which operates Monmouth Park, gave to the Asbury Park Press when asked when the racetrack will launch mobile NJ sports betting.

Monmouth Park was the first venue in New Jersey to accept sports wagers following the repeal of PASPA. In fact, it was ready to take sports bets ahead of the state releasing the necessary regulations and had to hold off for a few weeks.

That is why it is somewhat surprising to see them falling far behind in the race to launch online sports betting.

It has been three weeks since DraftKings Sportsbook shocked the sports betting industry by launching the first mobile sports app in the Garden State.

Since then, DraftKings has had the dance floor all to themselves. That is until this week when PlayMGM and SugarHouse Sportsbook launched their mobile sports betting apps.

Even as more players come online, there is still no sign of Monmouth Park.

Will Monmouth get online by football season?

Drazin says yes, Monmouth Park will be ready.

But with College Football set to kick off this weekend, it seems more prudent to aim for the start of NFL season (Sept. 6).

Monmouth Park’s sports betting partner, William Hill US, is in the midst of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) vetting process. No definitive timeline has been made public.

The football season is expected to be the most lucrative sport for the sports betting market. There is no doubt everyone behind the scenes is working feverishly to get up and running as soon as possible.

Drazin is aware that timing is everything:

“I spoke with Joe Asher (CEO of William Hill US) and he says we’re close and the DGE is working as hard as they can to try and get us up and running before football season starts. He is very mindful of the fact that we need to be open before football. He thinks we’re close but can’t give me an exact date.”

Monmouth Park hoping for a revenue boost

It’s no secret that Monmouth Park has been struggling to stay alive. NJ sports betting and online sports betting has the potential to give the track a new lease on life.

Initially, that looked to be the case. In June, Monmouth Park was sitting on top of the New Jersey sports betting scene. It earned $2.3 million in revenue during its first two weeks of operation. That figure was more than double its nearest competitor, Borgata.

Its king-of-the-hill status was short-lived, however.

July, the first full month of operation, painted a different picture for the Oceanport racetrack. Monmouth Park posted just $856,280 in revenue, a decline of 60 percent compared to the revenue it posted for only two weeks in the previous month.

To make matters worse, revenue related to its racing operation fell dramatically in August. The decline in revenue alone is incentive enough for Monmouth Park to get online as soon as possible.

Late to the NJ online sports betting party

Being late to the mobile sports betting party will not do any favors for Monmouth Park. Big brand names are busy building their customer bases and creating their niche.

But there is one big plus working in Monmouth’s favor: Its partnership with William Hill. William Hill is one of the most recognizable names in sports betting.

If the company can get up and running before football, then it stands a chance to be a significant player in the NJ online sports betting market.

If they miss the first kick off, however, Monmouth Park may find itself in the unenviable position of playing catch-up this fall.

For Monmouth, Premier Race Day A Win Despite Being ‘A Tick Down’ In Betting

Despite a drop in on-track handle, an increase in off- and on-track handle, as well as a bump in attendance, turned Monmouth Park’s legendary Haskell Day into a success.

How you judge the results of Monmouth Park’s Haskell Day depends on which numbers you look at.

If you’re Good Magic, the heavy favorite and winner of the Haskell Invitational sponsored by Betfair, then $1 million — the race purse — was the number of the day and a good one, at that.

However, if you’re Dennis Drazin, the CEO of the company who operates Monmouth Park, then the nearly $2 million bet at the track that day was a downer, representing a roughly 11-percent decline in handle compared to 2017.

Two different handle stats tell two different stories

In his conversation with App.com, Drazin said part of the reason on-track handle was down may be due to the fact that Good Magic was such a heavy favorite.

“`You’re never really happy when you’re down from the previous year,” Drazin said. “The betting numbers (were) good. They were strong and healthy. But they were a tick down. But, Good Magic was a heavy favorite, so maybe that accounts for some of the betting. But overall a good day betting.”

Another factor in the lower handle this year may have been the collective letdown of finding out that Triple Crown winner Justify, who many were hoping would race, retired a week before the Haskell.

However, not every bet placed on the day’s races were placed by people who were physically at the track, and that’s where the good news comes in.

According to a press release from Monmouth Park, on- and off-track betting totaled more than $13.39 million, representing a five-percent increase compared to 2017.

Drazin considers Haskell 2018 a win

Other good news: Attendance also saw a five-percent increase over the previous year.

So, while the on-track handle was lower than the previous year, Drazin was pleased with the overall results of race day, he told App.com.

“I think overall, everything went great. I was pleased with the operation and the race, and the weather even cooperated. I think even though going into the race there was that disappointment that we didn’t have the Triple Crown winner, for a while there Good Magic made you forget about the past season and look forward to the upcoming season. It gives you something to root for.”

Good Magic didn’t disappoint

As for the final race of the day, Good Magic lived up to the hype that came with being a runner-up at the Kentucky Derby and the fourth-place finisher at The Preakness.

He won his race by three lengths, a victory that jockey Jose Ortiz said came pretty easily for the thoroughbred.

“When I asked him to run I pushed the button and he was there for me,” Ortiz said in the Monmouth Park press release. “It was a really easy trip. He made it easy for me.”

It wasn’t a bad day for Ortiz, either. He won four stakes races on the day.