At the Beginning (May – 14, 2018)
May 14, 2018, will always be a memorable day for sports betting in the United States. It was the day the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was unconstitutional and, in striking it down, opened the way for legalized sports betting to take place in all 50 of its states.
Prior to this, only Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon were not prevented by PASPA from allowing commercial sports bookmakers to operate in their states – this because sports betting had been taking place within their jurisdictions for a minimum of 10 years at the time that PASPA was brought into play and they were thus legally entitled to apply for immunity.
Writing on behalf of the majority that voted 7-2 for the demise of PASPA, Justice Samuel Alito said: “The legalization of sports gambling requires an important policy choice, but the choice is not ours to make.
“Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each State is free to act on its own.
“Our job is to interpret the law Congress has enacted and decided whether it is consistent with the Constitution. PASPA is not.”
New Jersey, the state that had fought tooth and nail in the courts to end PASPA’s 28-year reign, was appropriately the first of the 46 US states not exempted from the old act to make sports betting legal.
Its legislature unanimously passed the bill legalizing it on June 7 and on June 11 New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed it into law.
Monmouth Park is first (14/06/18)
Moving on from there as we follow the beginnings of sports betting’s journey into America, we note that somewhat ironically, but not altogether surprisingly, the British-owned William Hill bookmaking giant was involved when Monmouth Park became the first New Jersey operator to open a land-based sportsbook, this just seven days after the state’s lawmakers had made it possible.
It was appropriate that Governor Murphy, who had led the legal battle against PASPA, was given the honor of making the first wager and before stepping up to the cashier’s window at Monmouth exactly a month after the Supreme Court had made their landmark ruling, Murphy said: “New Jersey’s spirit and determination prevailed.
“I’ll be betting $20 on Germany to win the World Cup and $20 on the Devils to win the next Stanley Cup.”
Monmouth’s book is powered by William Hill, a global sports betting giant which controls some 25% of the total sports wagering market in the UK and Ireland, and operates 115 sportsbook outlets in Nevada.
Operating under Monmouth Park’s license, William Hill launched its own sports betting app in early September to become the fifth of its kind to enter the New Jersey market.
In the meantime, DraftKings, the New Jersey-based market leader of the billion dollar US Daily Fantasy Sport (DFS) industry, had got its sums right and was able the win the race to be the first gaming company to open an online web and app-based sportsbook in New Jersey; this on August 6, 2018.
“Our mission.” said Jason Robins, CEO and co-founder of DraftKings at the opening, “has always been to bring fans closer to the sports they love, and now, thanks to the wisdom of the Supreme Court, DraftKings will be able to harness our proven technology to provide our customers with innovative online sports betting products.
“This ruling gives us the ability to further diversify our product offerings and build on our unique capacity to drive fan engagement,” added.
DraftKings blazed into the new betting market in such good shape and with such strong backing from its millions of DFS subscribers, it very quickly established itself as the New Jersey online sportsbook market leader.
Welcoming new signups with an impressive bonus and, powered by Kambi international software, it was able to give its punters one of the strongest sports menus and largest wagering markets in the fledgling US Sportsbook industry.
Sixteen days later Casino Resort giant PlayMGM followed DraftKings into the NJ online sports betting industry – but not quite as impressively. Its online sportsbook was only available on mobile smartphones and tablets, it offered no standout welcomed bonus and its sports menu was not as extensive as Kambi-powered DraftKings.
It did, however, have some advantages. Because of its close connections with the huge network of PlayMGM casino resorts, there was the chance of its sportsbook users benefitting from the PlayMGM Casino Resort loyalty awards program.
Just one day later it was the turn of the SugarHouse Sportsbook & Casino to open its doors. Like DraftKings, it is powered by Kambi software and brings with it a bigger and better than average sports menu and array of betting markets.
Because it has been merged with a SugarHouse casino it also gives its users the opportunity of some seamless one-stop gambling/betting using the same account.
Fanduel Sportsbook (01/09/18)
Fanduel, the second biggest Fantasy Sports juggernaut in the US after DraftKings and the 4th sportsbook operator to launch in New Jersey, starting taking sports bets for the first time on the 1st of September.
That was almost a month after DraftKings, but with good reason.
Backed by the financial muscle and international tech savvy of Paddy Power’s Betfair Interactive US LLC who had purchased it on May 23, Fanduel came to the party looking very polished and very professional – and one of the likely long-term winners of this new game.
William Hill NJ (02/09/18)
New NJ sportsbooks were coming thick and fast now. One day after FanDuel, British sportsbook behemoth William Hill, market leader and owner of 107 land-based race and sports betting outlets across Nevada and the power behind Monmouth’s brick-and-mortar sportsbook launch nearly three months earlier, opened its own online sports betting app in early September to become the fifth digital sportsbook to enter the online market in New Jersey.
The move didn’t help much to increase William Hill’s ratio between retail and digital sales. Not in its first month, anyway.
End of September figures showed that over-counter retail sales at their sportsbook partners, Monmouth Park and Ocean Resort Casino far exceeding their digital sales ($3,137,955 as against $362,866).
In direct contrast, New Jersey sportsbook market leader DraftKings along with BetStars, who had only been operating for the last two weeks of September, turned over of $8,505,940 in digital sales as against just $279, 492 made by the Casino Resorts land-based gambling houses to which they are linked.
Caesars Casino and Sport (06/09/18)
Four days later on September 9, Caesars Casino and Sport opened New Jersey’s 6th online sportsbook. Perhaps I should rather say it inserted a sportsbook into its online casino website and mobile app for the sportsbook part of the package is clearly the minor one.
It’s somewhat staid interface is nowhere near as bright or as busy as its Casino’s and it has one of the smaller sports menus in the business.
But as we have stated in our review, its joint bonus and reward package is a good one and it looks ideal for the internet gambler who is essentially a Casino gamer but who, every now and then, might enjoy getting involved in some headline-making sports action.
It took just another four days for Caesars Interactive Entertainment LLC to launch their second online sportsbook/casino/poker website and mobile app – and this time they looked to be taking a serious stab at picking up sportsbook market share.
They offered New Jersey’s largest sign-up bonus alongside one of the state’s largest Kambi-powered sports menus and gave you a bright and entertaining interface to play with.
BetStars Sportsbook (13/09/18)
BetStars NJ, coming in as the 8th starter in the New Jersey sportsbook market, hit the ground running just three days after 888sports – and did it with one of the Garden State’s most impressive sports betting packages yet.
With the largest sports menu and most attractive bonus and promotions package, it had everything needed to challenge the fast-starting, DFS-advanced DraftKings and FanDuel for a place on top of a pile that at the end of October 2018, was still growing.
Tropicana was set to launch the 7th Atlantic City Casino sportsbook on November 1. It will be run by William Hill
And the new Hard Rock Casino in Atlantic City is reported to have signed one deal that will give the mammoth British online sports book, Bet365, an entry port into New Jersey and the US markets and another with the Kindred Group, the owners of Unibet.
Gaming Innovation Group (GIG) is expected to power the online betting platforms of both Bet365 and Unibet.