by Ben Pickman, SI BETTING
When Jim Missiris opened Linwood Pizza in Fort Lee, N.J., 43 years ago, he thought he was merely running a restaurant that would churn out pies, Buffalo wings and trays of penne oozing with vodka sauce. In recent years, though, Missiris has seen his pizzeria take on an additional purpose, especially during weekend mornings in the fall.
Missiris’s enterprise benefits immensely from its location; the George Washington Bridge—connecting Jersey to New York City—is less than a mile away. And over the past three years, that placement has proved particularly advantageous due to the neighboring states’ differing laws regulating online sports betting. In
August 2018, New Jersey became the first state outside Nevada to accept legal sports wagers online, while New York will not sanction any online action until the upcoming football season at the earliest. So in recent years, family-owned Linwood Pizza, nestled between a Starbucks and an outdoor gear store in the nondescript Fort Lee Plaza, has become a hub for New York sports bettors eager to try their luck on NCAA or NFL games. “I love it,” Missiris says. “It’s almost like a party, being in here.”
During football season Missiris, 64, leaves his home in Rockland County, N.Y., around 9 a.m. After a 25-minute drive he’ll fire up his ovens and start prepping for the early-morning rush. On a normal weekday he initially whips up 12 specialty pies. During football season, to account for his hungry wagerers, that number goes up by 50%.