New Jersey sports betting to begin Thursday after governor signs legislation.

New Jersey sports betting to begin Thursday after governor signs legislation.

The wait is over — New Jersey sports betting begins Thursday.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation Monday allowing the state’s racetracks and casinos to begin offering sports betting later in the week.

“Today, we’re finally making the dream of legalized sports betting a reality for New Jersey,” Murphy said in a statement Monday afternoon. “I’m thrilled to sign Assembly Bill 4111 because it means that our casinos in Atlantic City and our racetracks throughout our state can attract new business and new fans, boosting their own long-term financial prospects. This is the right move for New Jersey and it will strengthen our economy.”

Betting will begin at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at New Jersey racetrack Monmouth Park.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy says he’s excited the “dream of legalized sports betting” is finally a reality. AP PhotoJulio Cortez

“I look forward to the governor joining us at Monmouth Park Racetrack on Thursday morning to usher in a new era for New Jersey by placing the first bet,” said Dennis Drazin, chairman and CEO of Darby Development LLC, operators of Monmouth Park.

Retired state Sen. Ray Lesniak, who spearheaded the state’s fight for legal sports betting, also hopes to be at the front of the line to place an early bet.

“Fifty dollars on France to win the World Cup,” Lesniak said. “That’s big-time for me.” The World Cup kicks off Thursday.

New Jersey is slated to open for business nearly a month after the United States Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, the federal ban on state-sponsored sports betting.

New Jersey will be the second state, joining Delaware, poker domino to offer legal sports betting since the landmark Supreme Court ruling. Nevada had been the only state allowed to offer a full menu of sports bets for the last 26 years.

“We led the fight for sports betting and it is now happening,” New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney said in a statement. “We will see sports betting get up and running and we intend to see that New Jersey continues to be a leader with a sports gaming industry that thrives. Our efforts will pay off.”

Atlantic City’s nine casinos, the state’s three racetracks and sites of former racetracks may offer sports betting under the legislation. MGM Resorts, which will operate the sportsbook at the Borgata in Atlantic City, said it is “moving ahead with all possible speed to begin accepting legal sports bets as soon as required regulatory approvals are in place.”

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