What’s taking so long? That is the question New Jersey gamblers are asking Governor Phil Murphy who still hasn’t signed a bill that would authorize racetracks and casinos statewide to begin accepting sports wagers.
The governor who replaced Chris Christie, the man responsible for a recent US Supreme Court ruling that lifted a federal ban on sports betting outside three states, insists he isn’t “sitting” on the bill and is reviewing it before signing it into law.
Republican Opponents Aren’t Buying It
But some politicians, including Republican Oceanport Borough Council President Joseph Irace, believe the governor’s refusal to sign the bill in a timely manner is “political.”
“For those who really believe Governor Murphy is still ‘reading the bill’ that his staff helped create, it took me 30 minutes to go through the whole thing,” Irace tweeted.
Many New Jersey residents are frustrated it’s taken Murphy three weeks to sign the bill into law. Lawmakers such as Irace are upset the state’s racetracks have missed out on some golden opportunities to generate revenue from sports betting off events such as the NBA Finals and horse racing’s Belmont Stakes.
Now that the NBA Finals has concluded, as has the horse racing Triple Crown races, the sports betting industry is in a “dead period” with Major League Baseball being the only major US sport in action until football starts in the fall. That means, even if Murphy signs the bill soon, it will be a few months before the new sportsbooks in the Garden State begin raking in the dough.
State Senator Declan O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth) echoed Irace’s frustration.
“The Governor claims he needs to review this legislation before signing it, but there is no practical reason why Monmouth Park cannot start accepting wagers while that’s happening–the sky won’t fall, lions won’t roam the streets, locusts won’t ravage our fields. There is absolutely zero likelihood of any negative impact of Monmouth Park opening today,” O’Scanlon told the press.
Governor Defends His Decision
Republicans are accusing Murphy, a Democrat, of attempting to make a political statement by holding off on signing the sports betting bill, but the governor has disputed that claim.
“I want sports betting,” Murphy said during a news conference in New Brunswick. “Believe me a I want to place the first bet in New Jersey if I can. But we want to make sure we do it right. We just got the bill. We’re going through it, and we’re not gonna sit on it.”
O’Scanlon isn’t buying what the governor is selling and called Murphy’s actions “disturbing.”