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Governor places first wagers as sports betting opens for business in NJ

OCEANPORT, N.J. — After more than seven years of fighting, the first legal sports bets were placed in New Jersey on Thursday at Monmouth Park.

The nationwide legal battle resulted in a win for New Jersey and two wagers from Gov. Phil Murphy, who was the first to step to the counter. He bet $20 on Germany to win the World Cup, 7-2 odds, and $20 on the New Jersey Devils to win the Stanley Cup, 40-1 odds. He stands to win $930.

"There is an old adage, you bet with your head and not with your heart," Murphy said. "For the last seven years, our heads and hearts were in alignment as we fought to overturn an unlawful and unfair federal law."

The Supreme Court ruled last month scrapped a federal law that barred sports betting everywhere except in Nevada.

New Jersey follows Delaware as the third state in the nation to allow sports wagering. Legal betting is allowed for gamblers 21 or older. All wagers must be made at racetracks, casinos or online.

"This means survival for Monmouth Park," said Dennis Drazen, Monmouth Park's CEO. "It means that the horsemen no longer have worry about closure. It means 13,000 jobs."

Dozens of sports fans lined up behind the governor to place bets on baseball, the World Cup and more.

"Will there be a score in the first 32 minutes? Will a particular player score at all? There is just a lot of options people have," one man said.

The Borgata in Atlantic City began taking bets shortly after Monmouth Park this morning.

Online betting is not expected to begin for 26 days.