New Jersey voters will have the opportunity in November to decide in favor of sports betting on the state’s college teams, or teams from other states playing games in the Garden State. It comes after the New Jersey Legislature on Thursday approved the measure placing a referendum on the fall ballot.
As of now, the state law bans betting on New Jersey college teams or teams from out of state visiting the Garden State for a tournament.
The lawmakers are ready to rectify their “mistake” of not allowing college sports betting in the original legislation, which they then feared could affect the integrity of the college sport.
What Change Can Happen If Voters Approve College Betting?
The ballot initiative aims to further expand New Jersey sports betting – already the top US sports betting market – by allowing the residents to wager on the state’s teams, including Seton Hall, Rutgers, Princeton, and others.
Sports betting fans in the Garden State were unable to place legal bets on the Scarlet Knights when the Rutgers men’s basketball team qualified for the NCAA championship in March.
In a joint statement following the vote, Assembly Members Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey said that the tournaments like March Madness are highly anticipated by fans across the country. “With a majority vote, we will be giving the residents in New Jersey the opportunity to place bets on our collegiate teams and continue to enjoy the sporting events in our state.”
What Question Voters Will Answer?
The voters will be answering ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the following question: “Do you approve amending the Constitution (of New Jersey) to allow wagering through casinos and horse racetracks (current or former) on all college sport or athletic events taking place in New Jersey. Wagering is also prohibited on an event in which a team from a New Jersey college participates.”
However, the interpretive statement reads that: “This amendment would allow the state legislature to pass laws permitting betting on any college sport or athletic event. It would also allow betting if a New Jersey college team participates in the competition.”
How Have We Reached Here?
New Jersey won a US Supreme Court case – more commonly known as PASPA – in 2018, which allowed all states to allow sports betting on their own. The judgment paved the way for New Jersey to overshadow Nevada – the hub of the country’s legal gambling market until PASPA.
New Jersey sports betting overtook Nevada in Aug. 2020, when the Garden State posted the national record of $668 million in handle. Nevada had posted the previous record of $615 million in Nov. 2019.
Since then, there was no turning back for the New Jersey sportsbooks, which kept posting new handle records with each passing month. Dec. 2020 was the culminating point when New Jersey sports betting posted $996.3 million in the monthly handle, which was sandwiched by November’s $931 million and January’s $958.7 million.
The only concern among fans was the lack of college sports betting, which the lawmakers had not allowed in the original legislation three years ago due to the perception of integrity of college games.
However, the Garden State’s three years with sports betting have been good enough to allay the lawmakers’ fears surrounding the legality of college betting.