New Jersey is allowing casinos in Atlantic City to offer fantasy sports betting in a pilot program that will be announced Monday.
The state Division of Gaming Enforcement has told casinos it will allow them to accept entry fees from gamblers and pay out winnings from the casino cash cages.
Regulations will be spelled out Monday, but an online gambling association says it expects that players will be allowed to draft a pool of athletes, follow their performances and compete against other fantasy teams. Those with the best statistical totals will win cash.
"This gives players the option to deposit money and then play daily fantasy games, where they pick three or five Major League Baseball or National Football League or National Basketball Association players and build an aggregate roster just for that one day," said Joe Brennan, president of the Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Association, an online gambling trade association. "Just like those leagues where you pick teams and follow them all season, you won't have to wait till the end of the year to see who wins. You would just wait till the end of the day to see who wins the prize."
The casinos could offer the games themselves or partner with other companies, and the industry welcomed the move.
"This is another great addition for the Atlantic City gaming market," said Tony Rodio, president of the Casino Association Of New Jersey.
It remains to be seen whether the fantasy bets could be made online or would have to be made in person at the casinos. Several websites already offer such betting, including fanduel.com and draftday.com.
Nevada already offers fantasy sports betting, but Brennan said he considers the demand there to be smaller because patrons also have the option of betting on individual sports games at the Nevada casinos.
He could not offer an opinion as to whether fantasy sports betting would decline in popularity if New Jersey prevails in its court battle with the federal government and the four major professional sports leagues over whether it can legally offer sports betting. Only four states met a 1991 deadline to approve sports betting; New Jersey was not one of them.
The regulations will be published in the New Jersey Register on April 15 and become effective April 22. That means they will come too late for the surge of interest in fantasy pools for the NCAA basketball tournament, but it would be in plenty of time for baseball in the spring, and football in the fall.
Participation would be voluntary among the casinos.