ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — A sports betting bill that’s expected to get final approval on Thursday could help keep four Atlantic City casinos in the game.
It would benefit the Borgata and three casinos owned by Caesars Entertainment.
The bill would ban casinos or executives who own professional sports teams from offering sports betting, theoretically counting out Borgata owner MGM because it also owns the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces. But under a clause in the bill, MGM would be approved because the team generates less than 1 percent of its total annual revenue.
Joshua Harris, who owns the Philadelphia 76ers and the New Jersey Devils, would get in under a clause allowing those who own less than 10 percent of a casino or gambling company to participate in sports betting. Harris’ Apollo Global Management owns a small percentage of Caesars Entertainment, which in turn owns Harrah’s, Caesars and Bally’s.
Still on the bench would be the Golden Nugget casino, which is owned by Texas billionaire Tilman Fertitta, who also owns the NBA’s Houston Rockets.
The measure would allow the Golden Nugget to offer sports betting as long as Fertitta sold the basketball team within a year. If he did not, he would forfeit his sports betting license, and all the money he made on sports betting during that time would have to be repaid to New Jersey.
State Senate President Steve Sweeney, a Democrat, said the bill was written that way to prevent anyone “from controlling both ends of the bet — owning the team and the company taking the bet.”
“That’s something we’re just not comfortable with,” Sweeney said.
The Borgata has said it will begin offering sports betting on the first day state regulators permit. Borgata and MGM officials would not comment on the sports betting legislation as it affects the company’s basketball team.
Officials with Caesars Entertainment and Fertitta’s company in Houston did not return calls seeking comment Wednesday.
The bill, up for final votes in the state Senate and Assembly on Thursday, would allow New Jersey casinos and racetracks to accept sports bets.
It would set the sports betting tax rate for casinos at 8.5 percent, with an additional 1.25 percent payment to help market Atlantic City. The 1.25 percent add-on fee for tracks would be split among the host community and the county in which the track operates. Internet bets would be taxed at 13 percent.
New Jersey last month won a U.S. Supreme Court case overturning a federal law that limited sports betting to only four states. States are now free to pass laws legalizing gambling.
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