Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Betfair gets closer to cracking the US

News today that the governor of New Jersey has signed a bill permitting exchange betting within the state. It's not a given for Betfair or any other company trying to operate a betting exchange on horse racing, it just allows the possibility of such betting platforms. I posted a whole batch of reasons a month ago why investors in particular shouldn't be counting their chickens just yet.

Here's the story from US racing bible, the Daily Racing Form.

New Jersey governor Christie signs exchange-betting bill

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed bills on Monday that will legalize exchange wagering and a new method of pooling parimutuel wagers, the governor's office said on Monday. Both bills were supported by elements of the racing industry as the state continues to pursue ways to help the state's beleaguered gambling industries.

Christie also vetoed a bill on Monday that supporters said would streamline the process by which offtrack betting locations are approved and built. In a statement released by his office, Christie said that he exercised a "conditional veto" of the bill because the state is continuing to negotiate the possible sale or lease of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority's two racetracks, Monmouth Park and the Meadowlands, and the bill could have negative consequences on those efforts unless reworked.

As written, the offtrack betting bill gives horsemen's groups and other private operators the right to pursue licenses for offtrack betting locations if all of the unused licenses are not issued by the end of 2011. In the statement, Christie said that potential buyers or lease-holders of the racetrack would need assurances that they would be able to pursue the licenses on a realistic time scale.

"I am recommending that the legislation be revised to clarify that negotiations concerning the transfer or assignment of offtrack wagering locations in the context of a potential sale or lease of a racetrack shall be deemed 'progress' toward the establishment of such facilities," Christie said.

The bill legalizing exchange wagering would allow the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority to contract with an exchange-wagering operator, provided constituents in the racing industry, such as horsemen's groups, approve of the deal.



That last sentence is crucial - there's still a lot of lobbying to go in the US for Betfair. They don't come more stubborn than racing industry factions....

The Betfair share price rose marginally this morning in reaction to the news.

3 comments:

  1. How would you see it affecting betfair for good or bad reasons, I expect we would see more liquidity in sports that the yanks like and premier league games, or is it just going to be limited to horse racing in NJ

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  2. Hi Steve, much of that covered in the earlier article. Sports betting still remains illegal in all bar Nevada, it covers racing only, and at that rate, probably only New Jersey racing. To make matters worse, it's likely to only be offered to New Jersey gamblers as well, at least initially, so there's no chance for any liquidity of note to build.

    Small steps in a long, long process for acceptance in the US....

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  3. After yesterday's downtime. Any chance they could concentrate on breaking the UK first? Do New Jersey Gamblers like Virtual Racing?

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