EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The legalization of sports betting was heralded as the dawn of a new era months ago, as gamblers crowded Monmouth Park Racetrack and Atlantic City to place bets on baseball and the World Cup.
But the Meadowlands Racetrack, which houses FanDuel Sportsbook, had been even more focused on Sunday’s start of the National Football League season, when its status as the only legal sports-betting venue in the country to share a parking lot with a professional sports stadium was on full display.
“This is the best day of my whole life,” said Joe Esposito, 52, who came from Springfield, N.J., to place a range of bets, including $1,000 on the Jacksonville Jaguars to win the Super Bowl. “I’ve been in sports gambling my whole life. I’ve lost millions of dollars doing it. But this is a place you can do it legitimately. And it’s right near the stadium!”
The N.F.L., despite its publicly stated aversion to gambling, is by far the most popular sport for bettors. Since 1992, more than $30 billion has been bet on football in Nevada, which legalized sports betting decades before New Jersey’s law changed in June, according to the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. The next closest sport is basketball, with $19 billion bet in Nevada since 1992.