At Monmouth Park, bettors were quick to line up at counters in the track’s sports book facility, underneath video boards touting odds on baseball, football, soccer and hockey.
Before placing his bets, New Jersey Governor Murphy joked about the sports fandom across the river in New York City.
"It will not be on the Boston Red Sox," said Murphy, a reference to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s. "And it will not be a bet my friend suggested, a bet if the Mets would ever win another game this season."
Murphy’s first bets, both $20 wagers, were for Germany to win the World Cup and the New Jersey Devils to win the Stanley Cup, CBS New York reports.
From there, Murphy was headed to the Borgata, the first Atlantic City casino to offer sports betting, where he planned to make another bet or two.
“I can bet on the Yankees to win. They don’t lose, they’re going to win today, tomorrow Saturday, Sunday,” said Edison resident Ed Garber.
“I’m a big Miami Dolphins fan,” said Ocean Park resident Joe Iannuzzelli. “I’m going to throw some dollars on them to win the Super Bowl.”
British bookmaker William Hill partnered with Monmouth Park to offer sports betting years before it was even possible, in anticipation of the day when a federal prohibition on such wagering in all but four states would be reversed.
“You can bet on who is going to score the first goal, what’s the score going to be, who’s going to win and if you want to come out later in the day, you can bet on the Yankees and Rays — anything from who’s going to win that game, how many runs are going to be scored,” said Michael Grodsky, Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations for William Hill.
Other casinos and tracks eventually plan to offer sports betting, but none have announced plans to do so in the next few days.
“Proud of what we accomplished for New Jersey,” said retired State Sen. Ray Lesniak, who for eight years pushed for states’ rights to legalize sports betting. “I feel invigorated by the fact I helped save Monmouth Park.”
It’s hoped the added attraction can also help tourism and horse racing, since Monmouth can now offer larger purses.
“This is a great day for New Jersey, this is a great day for Monmouth Park, because now hopefully we’ll get Justify to come to the Haskell, which will just make a big, tremendous economic boom to the whole area,” Assemblywoman Serena Dimaso said. “Our hotels will fill up, our restaurants will fill up. It’ll be just perfect for us.”
New Jersey won a U.S. Supreme Court case last month, overturning a federal law that restricted legal sports betting to just four states: Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon; only Nevada had offered bets on single games. Delaware started taking single-game sports bets last week.
Murphy signed a bill earlier this week and on Wednesday, the state’s racing commission formally adopted regulations so that gambling can go into play Thursday.
But the bill prohibits wagers on any New Jersey college sports or collegiate games taking place in the Garden State, excluding national tournaments like the NCAA, CBS2’s Natalie Duddridge reported.
Games played on site will be taxed 8.5 percent. Lawmakers say it will mean big business.
“I think it’s bigger than what people are anticipating,” said Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, D-NJ District 28.
But professional sports leagues have criticized the law, saying it doesn’t compensate the for the cost of having to police their own players from betting on games or altering the outcome of games.
Betting executives say that could happen before with illegal action.
“There’s a big black market, we know that, for sports betting and we know that you’re New Jersey, hopefully this will begin the process of moving folks away from a Illegal bookies into the legal, regulated market,” said Joe Asher, CEO of William Hill US.
Online sports betting will not start for at least 30 days in New Jersey. Until then, it is limited to casinos and horse tracks.
Meanwhile, other facilities around the rest of the state are also preparing, including Meadowlands Racetrack, in time for the NFL.
“Our goal is to open mid to late July and then have the online systems open for the football season,” said Meadowlands owner Jeff Gural.
Experts predict in-game betting, in which customers use smartphones to wager on developments over the course of a game, will quickly become a major component of sports betting in the U.S.