ATLANTIC CITY — Even before the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in May or Gov. Phil Murphy’s signature Monday, sports betting was going to be a focus of this week’s 22nd annual East Coast Gaming Congress and NextGen Gaming Forum at Harrah’s Waterfront Conference Center.
Lloyd D. Levenson, CEO of Cooper Levenson LLC and co-founder of the East Coast Gaming Congress, said the conversation around sports betting will differ now that Murphy has signed a bill legalizing it at the state’s racetracks and casinos.
“The manner in which (sports betting) is going to be rolled out is likely to be the main topic of conversation,” Levenson said Tuesday. “Anytime you have an event, starting with the Supreme Court decision (to overturn the federal ban on sports gambling in May) to the introduction of legislation in New Jersey to the governor signing that legislation, you have to expect it will be among the more talked-about aspects of gaming.”
Murphy, who will be a keynote speaker at the gaming convention Thursday afternoon, was at Harrah’s on Tuesday speaking at a labor union convention and was asked about the impact sports betting would have on Atlantic City.
“I think it’s a big deal,” Murphy told The Press of Atlantic City. “It’s a big game-changer for Atlantic City.”
The Governor’s Office estimates sports betting will produce about $13 million in tax revenue in the first year. But Murphy said the impact on the regional economy will be the real benefit for South Jersey.
“Folks don’t say it’s a big number directly,” he said of the revenue and tax implications of sports betting, “but I think it’s got big knock-on impact. You’ve got people who are more willing to go to the track or go to a casino and spend a weekend. It’s going to have a big impact on the economy.”
The legislation sets the tax rate for casinos at 8.5 percent, with an additional 1.25 percent payment to help market Atlantic City. Land-based casinos and racetracks can begin taking sports wagers immediately, with a 270-day window to comply with regulations put forth by the state Division of Gaming Enforcement and New Jersey Racing Commission.
Internet bets would be taxed at 13 percent and would begin 30 days after the rest of the law takes effect.
While sports betting — and Murphy — will take center stage over the course of the two-day gaming conference, Levenson said other topics are just as important, if not more so, in the long run, such as the June 28 openings of Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City and Ocean Resort Casino or the continued increase in revenue from internet gaming.
Other notables expected to attend the gaming conference are Geoff Freeman, the outgoing president and CEO of the American Gaming Association; Mark Giannantonio, president and CEO of Resorts Casino Hotel; Jim Allen, chairman of Hard Rock International; Felix Rappaport, president and CEO of Foxwoods Resort Casino; and Ed Sutor, president and CEO of Dover Downs Hotel and Casino.