Here’s some big local news that may affect New York and New Jersey sports bar owners: For the first time this weekend, the state of New Jersey will allow betting on football games and other professional sporting events at racetracks and in casinos. Bill S-2460, signed on Friday by Gov. Chris Christie, partially repeals state prohibitions, permits, licenses and authorizations for sports betting, according to an article published in the Asbury Park (N.J.) Press and reprinted here by USAToday.com.

The betting kicks off October 26 in Monmouth Park, the Oceanport thoroughbred racetrack, with bets on the Jets-Bills game and others. (The Giants aren’t playing this week.) However, the NFL and other pro sports leagues are working to overturn the bill.

The bill, (or, more specifically, repeal of previous legislation) could, in theory, give a boost to an economically struggling Atlantic City. Only four states in the Union – Nevada, Oregon, Delaware and Montana — are allowed sports books within their borders and, of those, only Nevada actually offers legal sports gambling in bars and casinos and at racetracks.

How Does Bill S-2460 Affect Sports Bar Owners?
Right now, gambling is only allowed within Atlantic City limits and at New Jersey’s four racetracks. Unless you’re planning to open a new sports bar in Atlantic City, if you’re a New York or New Jersey sports bar owner, this bill could hurt your bottom line.

Let’s be real about it. For those who want to bet on sports (and the demand is clearly there, as it has been since the beginning of organized sports) those fans are going to drink, eat and gamble at sports bars within Atlantic City or head to the racetrack. Of course, you’ll still have your diehard customers who want to visit a venue closer to their home. And, fortunately, not everyone is interested in gambling. But those who previously had no reason to go to AC may head there for Sunday football now. And while you don’t want to see locals betting against hometown teams… it’s gonna happen. Let’s not even go there right now… it’s too painful.

If the bill is extended to include other establishments, you’ll face a different set of challenges if you allow betting in your venue. Ethics aside, (we’re not here to pass judgment on what’s right and what’s wrong when it comes to gambling) you’ll want to find ways to automate the bidding with electronics and use technology to enhance the gambling experience for your customers. This is something Monmouth Park doesn’t even have in place yet, but if the bill remains in effect, should roll out over the next few weeks.

How to Beat the Competition
However, if betting remains legal on racetracks and within AC borders – but not elsewhere – sports bar owners within driving distance of these venues will face greater competition than ever before. It won’t be enough to hang a few plasma screens in your bar and call it good. You’ll want something better than gambling to attract crowds and make them feel like they’re a part of the game experience.

Maybe 4K upgrades are the answer. Bigger screens. More screens. An audio video system redesign that makes it easier to watch any game at any time and improves the sound quality across your venue.

Or maybe it has less to do with technology and more to do with the ambiance of your space. You want to create a place that people talk about and return to week after week, bringing their friends. In that case, you will probably still require a technology upgrade as you re-design your sports bar with a whole new look and feel.

Maybe you’ll add a live DJ as entertainment. Or a dance floor. A sushi bar. Comfy VIP lounge seating. The point is, there are many ways you, as a sports bar owner, can help your space stand out.

Monmouth Park, as of this weekend, has a brand new Unique Selling Proposition: legalized betting on football and other pro sports.

What sets your sports bar apart from the competition across New York and New Jersey? Can JD Systems help you stand out in a crowded marketplace? Give us a call to see what we can do for you.