Voters will decide in November whether New Jersey sportsbooks can accept legal wagers on in-state college teams or collegiate events played in the Garden State.
The state Legislature approved a resolution last month in support of amending NJ’s sports betting law. So the measure now heads to the general election ballot.
Under the 2018 sports betting law, gamblers cannot bet on NJ schools, such as Rutgers, Seton Hall, or Princeton. The law also prevents wagers on collegiate tournaments or events held in New Jersey.
The two largest New Jersey online sportsbook operators, FanDuel and DraftKings, fully support the changes. Both operators told NJ Gambling Sites that the state’s current prohibitions undermine the goal of sports gambling legalization and regulation.
New Jersey sportsbooks can’t offer Rutgers, Seton Hall games … for now
Lawmakers are hoping to change the law before the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament comes to Newark’s Prudential Center in 2025.
Last year’s tournament appearances by the Rutgers Scarlet Knights and Seton Hall Pirates helped move the needle in favor of change.
New Jersey sportsbooks have also missed out on the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference basketball tournament. Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall has hosted it for the last two years.
“Events and tournaments such as March Madness are highly anticipated by sports bettors all over the country,” NJ Assembly members Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey said in a joint statement after the vote. “With a majority vote, we will be able to give the people in New Jersey the opportunity to place wagers on our collegiate teams and continue to enjoy the sporting events in our state.”
FanDuel says changes will benefit NJ, bettors
New Jersey is currently the largest sports betting market in the U.S. Since 2018, more than $15.97 billion has been legally bet with New Jersey sportsbooks. Nevada’s sportsbooks have taken just under $15.5 billion in wagers over the same time.
However, it’s no secret that online sports betting accounts for more than 90% of all wagers in NJ. FanDuel Sportsbook and DraftKings Sportsbook are the largest of NJ’s online operators.
“We are supportive of including college sports in legalized betting states,” FanDuel said in a statement to NJGS.
“Without including it, you leave college sports betting to the illegal, unregulated market, depriving states of revenue both directly from college sports betting and from users who don’t convert to the legal market for other sports because it doesn’t include college.”
DraftKings wants college betting barriers broken down
Similarly, DraftKings — the first NJ online sportsbook — endorses the November amendment.
“New Jersey has been at the forefront of legalized sports betting in the United States and we commend the efforts of lawmakers there for exploring ways to safely enhance the sports betting experience,” said Griffin Finan, vice president of government affairs and associate general counsel for DraftKings.
“We are hopeful that voters in the Garden State vote yes to approve the amendment on all college sport or athletic events.”
The American Gaming Association, the lobbying arm for U.S. gambling, has long advocated for regulated sports betting as a means to eliminate offshore and illegal bookmakers.
“DraftKings believes that creating artificial barriers for customers such as restricting markets on in-state college teams and college events hosted within state lines, deter bettors from moving to the legal market and ultimately minimizes revenue opportunities for the state,” Finan said.
NJ sports betting ballot referendum language
So what exactly is the question that will appear on the November ballot?
Well, you can read the full details here.
Basically, the main question will be: “Do you approve amending the Constitution to permit wagering through casinos and current or former horse racetracks on all college sport or athletic events?”
The interpretive statement reads, in part: “This amendment would allow the Legislature to pass laws permitting wagering on any college sport or athletic event. It would permit wagering even if a New Jersey college team participates in the competition.”
Talk about a meaningful 2021 Election Day. The question will be appearing on the same ballot as the gubernatorial race.
AP Photo/Frank Franklin II