Instead of ignoring that iGaming is going on via illegal offshore websites — or squabbling about it like politicians in many states do — NJ legalized online poker and casinos years ago. The result has been a vibrant industry that generates more than $20 million in revenue every month.
The state is now looking to do the same with fantasy sports and sports betting, offering the closest thing to truly legal sports betting in NJ we’ve seen to date outside of Nevada and Delaware.
New Jersey can’t have sports betting yet, or can it?
New Jersey, of course, wants to offer single-game sports betting in NJ that is legal in Nevada (and in many jurisdictions in Europe and beyond). It can’t do that right now, but it might be able to soon if it wins its case that will be heard by the US Supreme Court.
Never one to rest on its laurels, the state is looking to push the envelope on sports betting in NJ even before that decision comes down (likely sometime in 2018).
The product is FastPick, a parlay betting platform based on player performances, rolled out earlier this week by Resorts Atlantic City.
FastPick a pretty easy concept to anyone familiar with either fantasy sports or parlay sports betting. Users simply pick which players will put up the best stats. (You aren’t picking a “roster” of players like you would at daily fantasy sports sites like DraftKings or FanDuel.) If you pick the right players, you win money.
You’re also playing against the house, instead of other players, making the idea of “fantasy sports” much more of a casino product.
It’s legal sports betting, though
Sounds a lot like sports betting, right?
But it’s considered legal because it meets the fantasy sports carve out in the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act and in state laws passed in recent years. (That will likely include New Jersey, where a bill formally legalizing DFS sits on the desk of Gov. Chris Christie. The state’s Division of Gaming Enforcement already cleared the product as legal under current law.)
A lot of those states passed laws, however, just to give the aforementioned DraftKings and FanDuel legal clarity. (Some are also taxing them to make a little money.) But no one in any of those states has really leveraged the idea of DFS to 1. help the existing gaming industry and 2. push the envelope of what constitutes legal fantasy sports.
New Jersey isn’t waiting around on either front.
NJ pushes the envelope again
The platform is actually a white-label solution customized for Resorts by a company SportAD, whose CEO is Joe Brennan Jr. That name will be familiar to those who know the history of NJ online gambling, as he was one of the driving forces behind its legalization.
Brennan, Resorts, and company are doing it again. New Jersey has jumped in front of everyone else on fantasy sports and sports betting, an emerging sector of the gaming industry. And its legality and future are not dependent on the state winning its case to legalize sports betting.
None of that, of course, means FastPick is destined to succeed; there’s no guarantee it will catch on. But at least New Jersey is trying something new.
The appetite for sports betting in New Jersey — and indeed the rest of the US — is huge. And this is the closest thing to a legal option you can find outside of Nevada.