New Jersey Becomes First State to Legalize Fixed-Odds Horse Racing Betting

  • Gov. Murphy approved AB 4909 on Thursday, legalizing fixed-odds horse racing betting
  • New Jersey’s gambling regulator has 90 days to create a regulatory framework for the market
  • Australian firm BetMakers has a ten-year agreement to manage fixed-odds betting statewide
  • Proponents believe fixed-odds betting will help the US’s horse racing industry grow
Horse and jockey
Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey has signed a new bill legalizing fixed-odds horse racing betting across the state. [Image:]

New Jersey takes the leap

For more than 100 years, the US has allowed its citizens to wager on horse racing in select states. Now, New Jersey is finally leading the way in expanding the betting options available to racing fans within its borders.

lock in prices on horses at the time they make the bet

Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation on Thursday that authorizes fixed-odds wagering on horse racing. The bill will allow New Jerseyans to lock in prices on horses at the time they make the bet. Previously, bettors could only place pari-mutuel wagers, in which they do not know the final odds until sportsbooks close betting.

With the signing of AB 4909, New Jersey becomes the first state in the US to legalize fixed-odds betting. The bill allows the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement to create a regulatory framework for fixed-odds betting within 90 days. The New Jersey Racing Commission will also help formulate the rules.

BetMakers to capitalize

Australian betting company BetMakers Technology expressed confidence in the legalization of fixed-odds betting way before AB 4909 received Senate and Assembly approval in June. The firm signed a ten-year agreement with Darby Development and the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen Association in February 2020.

Through the deal, BetMakers will manage fixed-odds racing betting across the state. The company can make agreements with sportsbooks and other types of licensees. Monmouth Park, a racetrack in Oceanport, has already signed a partnership with BetMakers. The racetrack offered fixed-odds betting in a pilot program during its 2018 and 2019 meets.

Monmouth racetrack has confirmed that it expects to begin offering fixed-odds wagering in the “coming weeks” after Gov. Phil Murphy’s approval. The track will offer win, place, and show betting on its own races with a minimum wager of $1.

Commenting after the bill’s passage on Thursday, BetMakers CEO Todd Buckingham described legal fixed-odds betting as “a pillar” of the company’s strategic vision.

“Today’s announcement enables the company to press forward with the roll-out of fixed odds betting in New Jersey while also setting a precedent legal framework that is relevant for our discussions with other states in the US,” he said.

Saving a struggling industry

Speaking earlier this year, lobbyist Bill Pascrell III, who represents both Monmouth Park and BetMakers, told lawmakers that a betting expansion would save the state’s ailing horse racing industry. “If we don’t do fixed odds, within the next ten years and perhaps even sooner, the horse racing industry is going to die on the vine,” he claimed

Added to this, New Jersey is not the only state with horse racing concerns due to its lack of fixed-odds betting. According to Pascrell, lawmakers in North Carolina, Oregon, Ohio, Colorado, and Oklahoma are all working on expanding betting options available to horse racing fans.

Proponents of fixed-odds wagering argue that it will increase the number of bettors, subsequently growing the amount of money generated by racetracks. In Australia, where fixed-odds betting is legal across the country, racetracks take around $25bn in wagers each year. Meanwhile, the US’s pari-mutuel market sees just $15bn wagered annually.

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