New Jersey’s Monmouth Park Announces The Independent Sports Association

While all eyes are focused on an expected federal ruling on New Jersey’s attempts to receive a “clarification” on its rebuffed attempts to formally authorize and regulate sports betting, alternate plans continue to be put into place.  Among the latest wrinkles is a press release from New Jersey’s Monmouth Park Racetrack, announcing the creation of a self-regulatory association to oversee licensed sports betting within the state.

new jersey flagThe new group, called The Independent Sports Wagering Association, or TISWA, is designed to promote a “safe, secure, and reliable sports wagering environment in the absence of New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) oversight.  Active oversight or regulation by the DGE or any other New Jersey government agency is forbidden under the terms of the United States’ federal-level PASPA (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act).  PASPA’s constitutionality was upheld in a federal court last year and reaffirmed earlier this year when the US Supreme Court refused to hear the state’s appeal in the case.

Monmouth Park, the creators of the new TISWA group, has aggressively promoted its plans to launch real-money sports wagering as soon as it receives some sort of formal framework.  The racetrack, located in Oceanside, New Jersey, has promoted its hopes to go live with sports betting by the end of this month, though that timeline now appears unlikely.

Other casinos and pari-mutuel outlets in the state have taken a wait-and-see approach; Caesars, which operates several casinos in Atlantic City, has already announced that it will not offer sports betting in the state until formally approved in some manner at the federal level — an unlikely prospect, given the Department of Justice’s partnering with five major US-based sports organizations in battling New Jersey’s sportsbetting plans.

The creation of the self-regulatory mechanism appears designed to come into play in the event US Circuit Judge Michael J. Shipp rules against the state again, and declines to provide the clarification of his own previous ruling that the state desires.  Just yesterday, state attorneys asked for a seven-day extension to file their own response briefs in the case, following lengthy submissions in the post-case scuffle that were submitted by both the sports associations (MLB, NFL, NCAA, NHL and NBA) and the DOJ.

Most industry watchers believe that Shipp will decline to offer the clarification the state desires, and leave the prospect of New Jersey sports betting technically legal, but only if unregulated.  Should Monmouth Park follow flesh out its TISWA framework, develop its own regulatory code and launch live real-money sports betting, it’s quite possible that federal officials will seek an injunction to shut down the enterprise, as happened in 2012.

As of the press release, Monmouth Park has not created any sort of online presence for the new TISWA group, nor announced if any of the other pari-mutuel facilities or casinos in the state are willing to join the effort.  Here’s the brief release from Monmouth Park Racetrack:

Monmouth Park Racetrack is pleased to announce the formation of The Independent Sports Wagering Association (TISWA) that it has formed to self-regulate sports betting.

TISWA’s purposes are to promote a safe, secure, and reliable sports wagering environment that protects both the persons placing wagers on sports contests and the public as well as providing mechanisms to safeguard the integrity of the sporting contests and athletic events on which wagers are accepted. To further its purposes TISWA will enact an Ethics Code of Conduct and Rules and Regulations.

Dennis Drazin, advisor to Monmouth Park, added:

“TISWA will model itself on other highly successful and effective private self-regulatory organizations that have long existed in the financial sector, real estate industry, and in the medical and legal professions.”

Separately, New Jersey legislators are also moving forward with a plan to counteract the expected federal-court denial.  While a first attempt at overriding the PASPA ban passed the NJ state legislature but was vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie, a second attempt with slightly different language has already cleared its first legislative hurdle, having been passed a week ago by unanimous vote in the state’s Assembly Committee Tourism, Gaming and the Arts.  The bill, A3634, is expected to be addressed in the New Jersey Senate in the near future.

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