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The Boston Herald
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — A northern New Jersey horse racing track has brought legal sports betting to New York City's doorstep.
The Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford began taking sports bets yesterday morning.
The track is located in the sports complex where the NFL's New York Giants and New York Jets play, about 6 miles from New York City. It's the fourth sports betting outlet in New Jersey following the state's U.S. Supreme Court victory in a case that cleared the way for all 50 states to legalize sports betting should they choose to.
"This is the beginning of a process that's going to change sports in America," said Jeff Gural, who runs the Meadowlands track. "Realistically, who watches football on a Thursday night, Jacksonville versus Cleveland, that doesn't have a bet on it?"
Former state Sen. Raymond Lesniak, whose lawsuit eight years ago against the federal government kicked off the long legal process that led to New Jersey's victory in May in the Supreme Court case, made the first bets at the Meadowlands. He doubled down on $50 bets he previously made on France to win soccer's World Cup and the Giants to win the Super Bowl.
Dan Healy drove from Brooklyn and paid $20 in tolls to make a three-team parlay bet involving the Boston Red Sox, the Seattle Mariners and the Houston Astros.
"It's amazing that they're finally doing it here rather than having to hop on a plane to Vegas to do this," he said.
Monmouth Park racetrack in Oceanport, near the Jersey shore, and the Borgata and Ocean Resort casinos in Atlantic City already offered sport betting. Those outlets took in $16.4 million in sports bets in the first two weeks it was legal.
But the Meadowlands is seen as more potentially lucrative.
"There are 12 million people who live within 20 minutes of this place," Gural said. "I think this could be big."
Industry executives say the real money will start flowing once sports bets are taken online. No one has received approval from New Jersey regulators to offer sports betting over the internet, but numerous casinos are expected to try to do so before football season begins in September.
Atlantic City's Hard Rock casino is seeking to offer sports betting at its brick-and-mortar facility.
FanDuel Group, which began as a daily fantasy sports company, operates the sports book at the Meadowlands track.
Matt King, the company's CEO, said the partnership aims to be the marquee sports betting operation in America.
"The way people interact with sports is changing," he said. "We are on the cusp of something transformational."
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