And They’re Off! Previewing Sports Betting (Both Live And Online) At The Meadowlands Racetrack


FanDuel, better known for its Daily Fantasy Sports, will debut its sports betting offering on Saturday at the Meadowlands Racetrack. Given its proximity to Manhattan, the track is described as “the best-located sportsbook in the country” by Keith Wall, director of U.S. retail for the newly-minted FanDuel Group.

It’s been a hectic week for the triumvirate of Paddy Power, BetFair, and FanDuel, which just finalized its hotly-anticipated merger on Wednesday. Paddy Power and BetFair are major names in Europe, but Wall told NJ Online Gambling on Wednesday that “FanDuel has created a trusted brand with strong customer service. It’s the most relevant name to U.S. customers, but they also will benefit from the Paddy Power and BetFair affiliations.”

Of course, FanDuel also has its own extensive database of clients that it can use in marketing, particularly to players in the tri-state area who will visit the track — or at least visit the state, so that geolocating systems can confirm their whereabouts and allow them to gamble online.

An abundance of betting options

Just as at Monmouth Park, the sports betting options are far greater than a casual sports fan might expect.

Take betting on the World Cup Final that takes place on Sunday between France and Croatia. Not only can bettors choose a winner, they can also pick who wins the first half, second half, and even who scores the first goal. The same will be true for the NFL and other sports. It’s a familiar pattern for those who have visited Las Vegas sports books, but some local horse racing players are liable to be surprised.

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“We’ll also have some extra promotions for customers who visit this weekend,” Wall said.

MLB, NBA, NHL, Mixed Martial Arts, boxing, tennis, and golf gambling also will be in play. Wall notes that in addition to the World Cup final, the men’s Wimbledon champion will be determined on Sunday — and next week is the golfing major known here as The British Open and across the pond as The Open Championship.

Unfortunately, those looking forward to making wagers on a FanDuel online sports book will have to hold their breath a little bit longer, as the company’s Meadowlands-affiliated site won’t be up and running until the end of August, just in time for college football and the NFL season.

When you can make your first bet Saturday

FanDuel officials stress that this is a “soft launch,” with the full bells and whistles coming this fall. But “dignitaries” are expected to be on hand for a 9:30 a.m. launch Saturday, with regular Joes getting in their first bets at 11 a.m.

Wall expects futures bets, such as taking the Giants to win the Super Bowl at 30/1. Asked if those bets are usually lucrative for operators, Wall quipped, “It depends who wins.” Nevada casinos know that too well. The 500/1 expansion Vegas Golden Knights reached the Stanley Cup Finals last month before finally losing, leaving countless local casinos breathing a sigh of relief.

FanDuel also has deals in place at Tioga Downs in upstate New York — also owned by Meadowlands owner Jeff Gural — and at The Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va. The latter is the site of an annual PGA Tour golf event and will welcome back the Houston Texans NFL team for training camp later this month. The resort is owned by the state’s governor, Jim Justice, who elected to let West Virginia’s sports betting bill become law without his signature in March. Only members visiting the site’s casino will be able to place bets there, but all five West Virginia casinos also will have the betting, with online options available starting in the fall.

DraftKings, FanDuel’s rival, has partnered with Resorts — Atlantic City’s first casino.

Gridlock at the Meadowlands?

Jeff Gural, the Meadowlands Racetrack operator, looks forward to seeing new patrons but has some worries about the potential size of the crowds this weekend. If traffic or crowding at the Victory Sports Bar are an issue, that could discourage some from returning. Of course, the Meadowlands track has had worse problems in recent years than that one.

First post for the $2.7 million Meadowlands Pace card, one of the track’s biggest events of the year, is at 6:35 p.m. on Saturday. It will be interesting to see the interaction between the horse players who have been coming the Meadowlands for four decades and the presumably younger crowd that will be visiting to bet on other sports. The same will hold even more true for The Hambletonian on Aug. 4, with a first post time of noon.

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John Brennan

John Brennan has covered NJ and NY sports business and gaming since 2002 and was a Pulitzer Prize Finalist in 2008, while reporting for The Bergen County Record.

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