Sports betting in New Jersey still the hot topic

Sports betting in New Jersey still the hot topic

August 29, 2017 3:00 AM


Editor’s Note: GamingToday welcomes back Phil Hevener, who will write twice monthly.

Richard Bryan, in a recent conversation, couldn’t resist a chuckle as he considered the difficulties involved with getting a sports betting bill through Congress. Momentum toward an expanded sports betting program in the U.S. has been slowed by factors ranging from political to philosophical.

These include the still-unresolved effort of New Jersey to establish sports betting there. (The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear New Jersey’s appeal in its upcoming session that begins in October.)

Las Vegas gaming attorney Greg Gemignani says, “I think a lot of states will be looking at how the court handles the New Jersey case.”

There is a bill “kicking around” in New Jersey that represents yet another effort to get the subject approved. (The bill proposes to repeal all New Jersey laws against sports betting.)

“I’ve never seen an administration like the one we have now in Washington,” said Bryan, former Nevada governor and senator, who returned to Las Vegas to practice law.

Who knows what changes may be possible in Washington as a result of the current uncertainties, Bryan seemed to be saying.

Another factor, according to gaming executive Phil Flaherty, is the big push of a year ago has slowed. Gamblers with any appetite for the possibilities offered by fantasy marketers have moved on to the next source of action. They’ll get back to fantasy gaming eventually. The growth of commercial gaming is a process. It takes time for an idea that requires new thinking to take root.

Remember how New Jersey regulators once debated bathroom wallpaper? Lawmakers have softened their attitude since then, creating fresh opportunities for the industry’s growth. Yes, sometimes you have to be hit over the head with the challenges and opportunities created by changing times.

Consider the case of Las Vegas bookmaker Vic Salerno who last year opened USFantasy in Las Vegas using the pari-mutuel approach. The company is headed toward its second season and has taken over the sportsbook operation at Baldini’s, a small casino in the Reno-Sparks area.

Yes, there is much that can happen when imaginative people go to work on a challenge, or as the Salerno’s of the world say, an opportunity.