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By Hilary Russ
June 11 (Reuters) - New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy on Monday signed a bill to legalize sports betting, opening the door for the state to begin regulating and taxing the activity at casinos and racetracks.
"Our casinos in Atlantic City and our racetracks throughout our state can attract new business and new fans, boosting their own long-term financial prospects," Murphy said in a statement. "This is the right move for New Jersey and it will strengthen our economy."
Monmouth Park Racetrack, where the U.S. unit of U.K.-based William Hill PLC has already built a sports book, expects to take its first bet at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, a park spokesman told Reuters.
State gaming and racing regulators, which are scheduled to meet this week, still have to issue emergency regulations to cover the roll out at facilities that already have sports betting licenses.
Murphy's signature positions New Jersey to be the second U.S. state to potentially roll out full-scale sports wagering, after Delaware last week.
Some states are rushing to implement sports betting in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court decision in May that overturned a 1992 law banning it in all but a few places, including Delaware which had only allowed limited wagers.
Gross sports betting revenues at New Jersey's casinos and horse racetracks will be taxed at 8.5 percent. After 30 days, the state will allow online bets as well, which will be taxed at 13 percent.
People placing bets must be at least 21 years old. Athletes, coaches, referees and other people with influence over games or access to confidential information are not allowed to bet on their own league's sport.
Betting is also prohibited on high school and college games taking place in New Jersey or involving the state's own such teams.
Professional sports leagues, most of which fought states' efforts to legalize sports betting for years, say the New Jersey bill does not contain any of the fraud fighting provisions they need to protect the integrity of games. (Reporting by Hilary Russ in New York; Editing by Sandra Maler and Cynthia Osterman)