Fixed-odds horse racing in New Jersey is officially legal following Gov. Phil Murphy’s (D) signature on legislation that was passed back in May.
The delay in Murphy signing Assembly Bill 4909 — bipartisan legislation that received unanimous approval — was because of a bundle of bills being passed in the final days of the New Jersey Legislature’s 2021 session. Murphy officials said adequate time to review the backlog of statutes was needed.
AB4909 allows fixed-odds betting on races held at the state’s three horse racetracks — Monmouth Park Racetrack, Meadowlands Racetrack, and Freehold Raceway.
Betting on horse races traditionally involves pari-mutuel wagering, where odds are not finalized until the race begins. Conversely, fixed-odds betting allows the gambler to lock in their odds at the time of the wager, similar to traditional sports betting.
Fixed-odds betting has been credited for growing horse racing in foreign markets, notably Australia. Horse racing has been a dying industry in the US for many years, as made evident by many tracks across the nation closing or no longer hosting live racing.
Sportsbooks Can Participate
New Jersey’s fixed-odds betting bill allows people inside the state’s borders 18-years-old or older to place a bet on a Monmouth, Meadowlands, or Freehold race. The statute sets the minimum wager at $1.
New Jerseyans can facilitate their fixed-odds horse racing bets online or in person, or go old school and phone in the stake. BetMakers, an experienced fixed-odds horse betting firm based in Australia, has entered into a 10-year agreement with New Jersey to handle lines for the three tracks.
BetMakers will offer its fixed-odds to New Jersey’s licensed sports betting firms, including mobile operators.
Sportsbooks such as DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetMGM that agree to participate will be required to share 50 percent of their fixed-odds horse wagering revenue with horsemen. Those funds will be allocated for future thoroughbred and harness racing purses.
The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) has 90 days to review the specific regulations of the fixed-odds horse betting bill, and finalize the governing rules.
When AB4909 passed in May, horsemen hoped to have fixed-odds betting live in time for the summer’s marquee events, such as the Haskell and United Nations stakes, both held in July.
American Pharoah ended a 37-year Triple Crown drought in 2015 by winning the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes. His next race came at the Haskell less than two months after the historic feat.
Despite not having the new betting for the 2021 summer season, Monmouth Park CEO Dennis Drazin is nonetheless excited.
Just like sports betting, New Jersey will become the first state to legalize fixed-odds betting on horse racing, and we are very excited about what this can do for the industry. Our partner, BetMakers, is ready to go.”
Drazin was instrumental in leading New Jersey’s legal charge to overturn the longstanding federal ban on sports betting. The state won its case in May of 2018, when the US Supreme Court ruled that the prohibition of sports betting outside of Nevada was in violation of the Constitution.