05/09/2016 6:54PM

Betfair to launch New Jersey exchange-wagering site on Tuesday


The first exchange-wagering site in the U.S. is expected to be launched on Tuesday as scheduled in New Jersey, though activity on the site will likely be limited in the first few days because of a paucity of live racing signals and the narrow reach of the operation.

The site, operated by Betfair, a British company that pioneered the exchange-wagering concept 15 years ago, will allow New Jersey residents to accept and make bets with other customers of the exchange at odds agreed to by the customers. In addition, the site will allow customers to trade bets on horses as the races are being run.

The Tuesday launch date for the platform coincides with a press conference scheduled by New Jersey’s Monmouth Park to publicize the opening of the track’s meet on Saturday. Monmouth Park, which is operated by a horsemen-led group under a lease with the state, has an agreement with Betfair allowing the company to launch the site under statutes requiring an agreement with the racetracks and its horsemen, which in the case of Monmouth is one and the same.

No major racetrack has a live card scheduled on Tuesday. Monmouth, which is expected to be popular on the site, will not appear until its opening day on Saturday. Tracks that will be available during the first few weeks on the site include Charles Town and Mountaineer in West Virginia, Louisiana Downs in Louisiana, Emerald Downs in Washington, and Woodbine outside Toronto, Canada, according to Betfair.

Betfair has been unsuccessful in negotiating agreements to take wagers on the races from many major racetracks. Betfair officials have stated that tracks and horsemen are standing on the sidelines as they await data generated by the Betfair launch.

For the past two weeks, Betfair has operated an invitation-only, beta version of the betting exchange, with bettors using real money. In a company statement issued in response to questions, Betfair said that 24 players participated during the beta testing and that information gleaned from the testing phase “led to several enhancements.”

One of the beta participants was Dennis Drazin, the president of the group operating Monmouth Park. Drazin has been an enthusiastic supporter of Betfair’s efforts to launch in the U.S.

Though betting exchanges are popular in some European countries, and especially so in Great Britain, the New Jersey exchange will be the first to be launched in the U.S. Only two states, New Jersey and California, have passed laws allowing for the operation of betting exchanges. Efforts by Betfair to launch a site in California have been hampered by opposition from horsemen’s groups and some tracks.

Only residents of New Jersey will be able to sign up to use the exchange, and all U.S. bets on the exchange will be required to be placed while the resident is physically in New Jersey. Betfair intends to use geolocation technology to ensure that the bets are being placed within the borders of the state. However, customers of Betfair’s European operation will be able to participate on the exchange with New Jersey bettors. 

Betfair also owns Television Games Network, which is the only licensed account-wagering provider in the state of New Jersey. The new exchange is expected to be promoted heavily on TVG’s broadcast network.