Thoroughbred Racing Fan Association, Inc.



Sports Betting — New Jersey

National Gambling Impact Study Commission (NGISC) estimated that illegal wagers on sports in the United States are as much as $380 billion annually. Contrast that with about $3 billion wagered on sports in Nevada. The amount of illegal wagering not regulated or taxed is enormous. That is why states like New Jersey are moving fast forward to have sports betting.

The New Jersey model which was signed by Governor Christie allows sports betting at racetracks, as well as other venues. Supporters of the concept see it as a windfall for failing Atlantic City casinos and the states racetracks. Monmouth Park will begin taking sports bests on October 26, 2014.

A similar argument was once made when the industry wanted to have machines at racetracks. Although the benefit in larger purses was welcomed, the machines did little to rebuild the sport and its fan base. At most tracks with slots, the customers at racing and slots were mutually exclusive. Regardless of efforts to cross-breed these two groups, the differences are still obvious, even to the person on the street traversing a casino floor.

Should we expect sport betting at tracks to be any better? Maybe!

Clearly the cerebral activity associated withhandicapping and sport betting are similar. Customers seem to have a propensity to enjoy working with numbers and making educated/analyzed outcome predictions. Such is not the case with slot players who depend on Pavlovian random rewards. So, maybe, sports betting will bring a new clientele to racetracks who will find the game enjoyable and not intimidating.

This is likely more true for the casual player who is not hyper-sensitive to take-out. But, for serious players there may be a problem. Pari-mutual wagering at tracks has a blended take-out of around 20%, while sports betting based on Nevada data has a take-out of around 5%. That is a big difference. So will bettors who like sports betting succumb to racing with such a huge take-out?

Monmouth Park in New Jersey is eagerly preparing for sports betting. It is enhancing its track property to welcome the customers. Yet, the final decision, although within sight, needs to clear a court hurdle which will be heard at the end of this month. Stay tuned.