The man primarily responsible for the expansion of sports betting in the United States will introduce fixed-odds wagering for horseracing on Saturday (May 7) at Monmouth Park, the racetrack he owns in Oceanport, New Jersey.
Dennis Drazin, the attorney who wrote the New Jersey sports-betting law affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in overturning the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act on May 14, 2018, is confident fixed-odds are the future of the United States’ horseracing industry.
“The simple example is out of Australia which has about 30m people, and they bet about $30bn Australian (on horseracing), which is about $23bn U.S.,” Drazin said.
“We have about 300m people (in the U.S.); we bet about $11bn.”
Drazin hopes to emulate Australia’s success with fixed-odds, and his partner is BetMakers Technology Group of New South Wales, Australia.
BetMakers will operate the fixed-odds system at Monmouth Park.
Under the pari-mutuel wagering system at U.S. tracks, odds can fluctuate after a bet is placed and even before a race is finished.
Fixed-odds, on the other hand, do not allow any changes after a bet is made so bettors know how much they are set to win at the time of placing the wager.
Saturday will be opening day for a new racing season at Monmouth Park, and Drazin expects a crowd of between 13,000 and 20,000 people.
Bettors will be able to make either pari-mutuel or fixed-odds wagers on the races at Monmouth Park.
Fixed odds wagers will be restricted to the top three horses — or win, place and show — in each race. Exactas, trifectas and other exotic bets will not be eligible for fixed-odds wagers at Monmouth Park.
Only pari-mutuel bets will be accepted at Monmouth Park for the Kentucky Derby, which will be broadcast on Saturday from Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.
Although this will be the first full-scale launch of fixed odds in the United States, Drazin said the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) allowed fixed-odds wagers on the Haskell Stakes at Monmouth Park for a couple of years prior to the pandemic.
As excited as he is about fixed-odds at Monmouth Park, Drazin also is trying to lower expectations.
“I don’t expect the fixed-odds handle, which is the amount of money that people bet, to be instantly a success,” Drazin said.
“I think it’s going to be slow growth. I think, three to five years down the road it will represent perhaps 50 percent of the [horseracing] handle.”
Critics of fixed-odds have claimed they contribute to a decline in prize money for horseracing in the UK.
But Drazin argues the horseracing industry in the United States must try something new if it is going to survive and thrive in the future.
“If everybody remains frozen, and nobody takes a shot, then you don’t have a chance to grow your industry,” Drazin said.
“We all just stagnate, and nobody accomplishes anything trying to move forward.”
Democratic Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey signed a bill to legalize fixed-odds wagering for horse races into law in August 2021, two months after it passed the state legislature.
Regulations governing fixed-odds wagering were adopted on a emergency basis in November by the New Jersey DGE, which was granted primary regulatory authority instead of the New Jersey Racing Commission.
Drazin said he decided to pursue the legislative option after the New Jersey attorney general’s office questioned whether fixed-odds would apply to horse race bets or sports bets.
The New Jersey law clarifies that fixed-odds apply only to horseracing.
After leading the effort to legalize sports betting and becoming the gold standard for internet gambling, New Jersey is proving to be a pioneer in the U.S. gambling industry once again with fixed-odds wagering.
“New Jersey is trying to become, if it isn’t already, the number one state in the gaming space,” Drazin said.
It is not the only state moving ahead with fixed-odds wagering for horseracing, however.
In March, the Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission approved new regulations for sports betting to permit sportsbooks to offer fixed-odds wagers on horse or greyhound races provided the operator has received the consent from the Colorado and host state's racing commission, the host racetrack, all Colorado racetracks and the relevant horse or greyhound association.