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What's The Holdup Legalizing Sports Betting In New Jersey?

OCEANPORT, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – New Jersey is on track to make sports betting legal, but one hurdle remains: approval from Gov. Phil Murphy.

As CBS2's Steve Overmyer reported, the betting could have begun Friday. But instead, the sports book at Monmouth Park was silent.

"Feeling disappointed. They want to place their bets," said Kevin O'Connor, of Fairhaven.

The state Legislature passed the bill Thursday. It's now in the hands of the governor, who's given himself no timetable.

"I want sports betting. Believe me, I want to place the first bet in New Jersey, if I can," Murphy said Friday. "But we want to make sure we're doing it right. We just got the bill, so we're going through it. We're not going to sit on it."

For the past month, racetracks like Monmouth have been ramping up with new monitors, 15 new betting stations and 50 new employees. The only thing missing is a signature.

"We've been knowing all along that whenever it happens, thumbs up, we would be prepared for it. So we've been just waiting. We've said from day one – whenever it is responsibly time to open, we will open at that time," said Michael Grodsky, of William Hill Race & Sports Book.

More: Exclusive: Sneak Peek Inside Monmouth Park's Sports Betting Operation

The governor said the delay is based on the level of detail in the review process. He insisted he's not using it as political leverage for the upcoming budget.

"We just got this this morning, literately. So we're taking it and parsing through it, our team right now. And we're doing with it what we do with every other bill," he said.

The Legislature actually wrote language in the bill that would allow racetracks to begin taking bets even without Murphy's signature. But Thursday night, the New Jersey Racing Commission warned racetracks against taking bets Friday.

Overmyer asked Monmouth's Chairman & CEO Dennis Drazin whether he saw the commission's letter as more of a courtesy or a threat.

"The letter was not necessary," he replied. "We're anxious to go and we're ready, and everyone in the state is anxious to make those bets. We have to respect the process."

Until that process is complete, anxious betters will have to exercise patients.

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