Questions, Concerns Continue About Atlantic City Rail Line Shutdown

Days after the NJ Transit announcement of a five-month shut down of the Atlantic City Rail Line in September, many are worried about the effect on AC casinos and commuters alike.

In the days following the NJ Transit announcement of service stopping on the Atlantic City Rail Line this fall, there is still a lack of information.

Concerns are climbing that commuters and travelers will be left waiting on the platform.

NJ Transit announced Aug. 3 that it will stop the rail service between Philadelphia and AC starting Sept. 4 due to safety concerns and staffing shortages.

With two new casinos and sportsbooks popping up in AC almost weekly, this spells significant disruption of operations in the seaside resort city after the summer ends.

The rail line, the only one that directly connects Philadelphia and the Jersey Shore, includes seven local stops that allow those working in or visiting casinos to avoid traffic on local roads or tolls on the Atlantic City Expressway.

During the five-month shutdown, NJ Transit has offered to increase bus service from Lindenwold, allowing those coming from Philadelphia and Camden County to travel on PATCO and connect on the bus. The No. 554 bus route makes stops along the White Horse Pike (US-30) and will serve the towns where the train stopped.

But is that enough?

Local politicians aren’t happy

Among some politicians representing South Jersey in the New Jersey Legislature, these solutions aren’t sufficient.

Sen. Chris Brown (R-2nd District) represents Atlantic County and serves on the NJ Senate’s State Government, Wagering, Tourism, and Historic Preservation committee.

In a letter to John Del Colle, senior director of legislative relations at NJ Transit, Brown wrote:

“I believe completely shutting down and re-deploying equipment and personnel from the Atlantic City Rail Line to other parts of the State is unfair to the local, working families I represent.”

Brown’s committee helped expedite legislation that allowed sportsbooks to open this summer after the state won the US Supreme Court case that ended PASPA.

‘More time to discuss it’

Atlantic City has seen many casinos open sportsbooks during the summer or apply to open them by September. Closing the AC train line that thousands take to the casinos right before the start of college and pro football season not only hurts the handle of these books, it limits the insights and data regulators can take to alter and improve the laws that govern this experience.

Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D-1st District), who represents Cape May County and other parts of South Jersey, lamented the way NJ Transit announced this shutdown. It caught most in the state by surprise.

Van Drew, who is running for a congressional seat that includes AC and has a chance to flip the South Jersey seat, compared the process to open meetings the state’s Department of Transportation holds before road closures to inform the public and receive feedback.

“I wish we had more time to discuss it, unveil it,” Van Drew said after the announcement. Van Drew chairs the Community and Urban Affairs committee.

Contingencies and consternations

The Atlantic City Rail Line averaged 2,150 weekly riders in 2017, according to data from NJ Transit. That number is down from 3,600 in 2009 and represents a steady decline in ridership over the years that mirrored the casino struggles in the beach resort town.

NJ Transit has offered discounts on No. 554 bus fares and plans to run it hourly. For those who have monthly passes and paper tickets, those tickets will be cross-honored on PATCO service at certain stations.

Those who use Pennsauken will get shuttled to Walter Rand in Camden, while those who frequent the Cherry Hill station will be shuttled to Woodcrest station.

These concessions all help customers who are inconvenienced by the shutdown get to the Lindenwold PATCO station to meet the bus. However, this still means taking a bus that takes almost double the time to reach AC in off-peak hours than the train running at similar times.

The train schedule says a Friday afternoon ride is about an hour from Lindenwold to AC. The same run on the No. 554 bus is scheduled for one hour and 50 minutes.

Brown expressed concerns in his letter:

“Those traveling from Atlantic County have to take the non-express No. 554 Bus, extending commutes up to two hours, without access to a restroom. Further, many commuters tell me they will not benefit from the 25% ticket discount since they are being forced to make more transfers,” he wrote.

The NJ Transit train is very convenient for those who are disabled or struggle with mobility issues. The bathrooms are accessible and the cars are single-level, unlike some lines that serve New York City.

Switching to buses makes the journey uncomfortable and longer, which will probably mean less travel to the casinos during the fall. Those who need help getting around will probably not find their ways to seats in the sportsbooks.

NJ Transit and PATCO challenges

NJ Transit partnering with PATCO creates a transition for customers who use the Camden County stations but this creates its own set of potential challenges.

The train that runs from Lindenwold to Center City in a half hour is a great way to get around South Jersey and Philadelphia. I use it myself, and it’s often reliable. However, when there are problems, it can create chaos.

Fall is a tricky time as wet leaves and downed branches can slow or stop service. The weekend schedule sees far fewer trains than the weekdays. Last fall, service was every 20 minutes on Saturday and 30 minutes on Sundays. This summer has seen frequent shifts in schedules during the day and night throughout the week.

With the return of football at Lincoln Financial Field, PATCO will shift schedules to accommodate thousands going to South Philadelphia. During rush hour, the flow of traffic serves the commuters heading into and out of Philadelphia, while those trying to reach Lindenwold will be on the other side of that unbalanced scale.

Casino workers may benefit from traveling during off-peak hours, but the disruption of routines will probably require some adjustments and potential loss of sleep.

“No doubt this will be a tremendous imposition,” said Van Drew.

And what about the shuttle buses?

For casino workers, one of the great advantages of taking the train is the shuttle buses that travel between the casinos and the station. Unlike most of the jitneys that putter around the city, these shuttles are free.

It’s a long walk from the AC Bus Terminal to the Boardwalk (not recommended). Accessing Golden Nugget and the Marina District casinos require a ride through a tunnel.

A source at NJ Transit said the service would continue from the bus station, although nothing has been formally announced. The local jitneys charge $2.25 per ride. Ride-sharing exists, but it’s very difficult to find accommodating service if you’re wheelchair-bound.

A tale of two Jerseys

The battles over the only heavy rail line that serves South Jersey magnifies some of the issues between two segments of South Jersey.

The Philadelphia suburbs often complain about the money, power, and attention wielded by those who live outside New York City.

In New Jersey, there are more than twice as many legislative districts that serve the North Jersey suburbs than South Jersey. NJ Transit operates nine lines that serve Central and North Jersey, terminating in Hoboken or New York Penn Station.

Only one of those, the Raritan Valley Line, will be affected by the safety-induced shutdowns. While there are substantially more commuters taking those lines every day, NYC is also served by the four PATH train lines and ferry services, along with the myriad bus lines that bring people to Port Authority in Midtown Manhattan.

In contrast, only one bus route connects Atlantic City to inland towns and Camden County. There’s one express bus that serves Philadelphia and Camden but that travels the AC Expressway and doesn’t visit any stops along the train line.

“We need to have transit options and we’re woefully short now,” said Van Drew.

Remember what happened at The Meadowlands

This conflict between the gaming mecca in the south and power base up north speaks to a recent sticking point, brought up last month with the opening of FanDuel Sportsbook at the Meadowlands.

Atlantic City has seen sharp decreases of revenue during the past decade from losing customers to other states opening competing casinos. The industry has shrunk with some NJ casinos closing and thousands losing their jobs.

This summer, with the advent of sports betting and the opening of Hard Rock Atlantic City and Ocean Resort, better days seem close.

While AC was down, some wanted to see a casino open at the Meadowlands. A 2016 referendum saw state voters defeat the idea by a landslide.

However, at the opening press conference in July, Meadowlands CEO Jeff Gural noted he’s still willing to invest $500 million to open a casino on the premises where he operates a racetrack and now the FanDuel Sportsbook.

NJ Transit bus service takes customers right to the entrance of the Meadowlands track.

Solutions and adjustments for the AC Rail Line

In his letter, Brown suggested the 554 bus run express service to the idle stations, especially during rush hour.

Extra service will probably help with the overflow of riders displaced from the train. It still means a longer commute versus the train with the traffic and frequent lights on the White Horse Pike.

In the fall, you have another potential hazard in the wooded areas outside Atlantic City: deer at night.

I tweeted to PATCO about this potential shift in scheduling. Here’s the conversation:

NJ Transit declined further comment, assuring further announcements will be made about the Atlantic City Rail Line shutdown.

This shutdown could prove a seismic shift in early customer activity.

Casinos who rushed in their applications to open sportsbooks planned on big crowds once football kicked off. William Hill will expand its sportsbook at Ocean Resort Casino next month, adding plenty of room for bigger crowds.

Atlantic City relies on the live experience to earn and retain business. The investments in time, energy, and capital could be scuttled by this shutdown and will certainly cost potential revenue.

But what does all this mean for you?

What does this mean to the average bettor?

Well, we have seen the start of online and mobile betting thanks to DraftKings Sportsbook. Casinos will complement their in-house sportsbooks with apps and sites sooner rather than later. And of course, NJ gambling sites are an integral part to the gambling industry in the state.

But it’s hard to get people to visit a business, let alone a city, if they can’t get there easily.

The lure of the live sportsbook experience and the amenities Atlantic City casinos can provide are useless if no one’s there to enjoy it. Winning is more enjoyable when it’s shared; losing stings slightly less (unless you’re betting against Philly teams).

It compromises the DGE’s efforts to understand player behavior and thwart any illegal activity. If a player has no better alternative, what’s to keep him from continuing to bet through Bovada or an illegal bookie?

Controversy At FanDuel Sportsbook Leads To Questions, Concerns As NFL Season Nears

A couple late MLB games lead to confusion and disgruntlement at FanDuel Sportsbook at the Meadowlands this week, but football season is just around the corner.

FanDuel’s payout problems continued to draw attention more than 24 hours following the sportsbook’s inability to cash all winning tickets Wednesday morning.

A representative from the DFS brand operating the FanDuel Sportsbook at the Meadowlands Racetrack noted the tickets were paid a day later after the book reopened. However, no changes to operating hours or payout procedures are in the works.

The payouts that occurred after operating hours remained a topic of multiple articles and Twitter conversations among the sports betting community.

The city never sleeps, but the sportsbooks do

Sixteen innings of Major League Baseball in Philadelphia was a sweet win for the Phillies but left some bettors in East Rutherford bitter.

FanDuel Sportsbook closed its vault at 1 a.m. Wednesday morning, leaving some customers unable to cash tickets. Some who had winning tickets from the Phillies-Dodgers game and other contests that ended after operating hours were instructed to bring back their tickets later. However, others were paid after the game ended at about 1:15 a.m., according to reports.

Some fans left disgruntled and took their umbrage to social media, suggesting the book was short on cash.

In response, FanDuel released this statement Wednesday afternoon:

“The FanDuel Sportsbook’s business hours of operation last night were to 1 AM, as clearly posted throughout the facility. Once 1 AM hits, our cages are closed.  We cannot take wagers or pay out wagers after that time. To be clear, there was no issue with cash on hand. All customers are welcome to return today to collect any winnings, or to mail in any winning tickets for payment.”

Extra innings and opening hours

The Phillies-Dodgers game saw a 14-minute rain delay before the first pitch, followed by 16 innings of baseball between two first-place teams.

Deadlocked at four runs until Trevor Plouffe’s 3-run homer against Kike Hernandez, those fans who had the favored Phillies and Over 8 sweated out inning after inning of offensive futility as Tuesday night became Wednesday morning.

Since opening on July 14 (a month ahead of schedule), things have gone swimmingly for the new partnership. The closest legal sportsbook to the biggest market in the nation eclipsed $1 million in bets in their first weekend and has handled more than $3 million since opening.

Late hours were considered before the book opened. FanDuel Sportsbook operates until 1 a.m. Sundays-Thursdays and until 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Those operating hours might be tested this fall when college football and pro football kicks into gear.

Why does the FanDuel Sportsbook hiccup matter?

Anyone who’s visited a racetrack or sportsbook in another state knows what a pain it can be if you have a winning ticket but not the opportunity to cash it.

An early flight out of town means it may be weeks or months before winning tickets can get paid if you don’t lose it first. Mailing in the ticket creates another set of risks that some bettors would prefer to avoid.

Those options may be deterrents for bettors that New Jersey and other states wish to lure from underground, illegal books.

Opening sportsbooks in casinos that run games all night can create some other logistical problems.

The Borgata Race & Sports Book, for example, opens at 11 a.m. and closes at 11:30 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays and midnight Fridays and Saturdays. The book stops taking bets 30 minutes before closing. Guests who check out early may leave with their tickets and not get a chance to redeem it immediately.

Some fans have already complained about that limited accessibility:

All the attention, all the what-ifs

FanDuel Sportsbook is primed to draw visitors from around the world with its location to New York City. “The City That Never Sleeps” isn’t just a clever marketing slogan. Bars are open until 4 a.m. and shops stay open hours later than in other locations, creating a specific mindset and expectations.

Visitors who can access virtually anything they desire at all hours may be frustrated by the early closing of the sportsbook.

To those who have followed the progress of legislation and the beginning of this new frontier, optics and communication with this incident magnify the problem and how far the books have to go.

This was a midweek baseball game in July. It was the Phillies in North Jersey, not South Jersey. The few winning tickets could have been far more if it were Yankees-Red Sox or a marquee NFL matchup in the fall.

Just a wrinkle to be ironed out

No reports have come out suggesting the FanDuel staff notified players they may have to leave with their tickets as the innings piled up. For a book that opened a month before initially planned, this is a growing pain but this one could hurt more than others.

The NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement has not commented on the situation. It’s not certain they’ll release a formal report either.

However, as the summer days roll by and NJ sports betting gets bigger and bigger, this is not the time to be idle. Two weeks from now will be the full start of the NFL preseason. Interest, money, and scrutiny will multiply. This will test the preparedness of the sportsbooks and the state’s oversight.

The success of these endeavors and the proliferation of legal sports betting in the Garden State and elsewhere may depend upon the first weekends of August and September.

If this incident creates new logistics and better communications, that could do a lot to win new supporters and customers. If so, we’ll recall that old Springsteen lyric: “One day we’ll look back at this and it will all seem funny.”

NJ Sports Betting Bill Passes Both Chambers, Heads To Governor’s Desk

New Jersey lawmakers put the finishing touches on NJ sports betting regulations. The Assembly and Senate passed the same bill unanimously. All that’s left is for the governor to sign it into law.

After a few technical difficulties and delays, New Jersey lawmakers put the finishing touches on NJ sports betting regulations. The Assembly and Senate both passed the same bill unanimously on Thursday.

All that’s left is for Gov. Phil Murphy to sign it into law. Once he signs it, NJ sports betting will be up and running.

Two sessions in one day end with the same result

After briskly passing a series of bills, the Assembly recessed to consider amendments for the sports betting legislation. The chamber buzzed with discussion of the proposals.

After over an hour delay, the chamber reconvened.The NJ Assembly passed the amended bill A4111 by 73-0 to applause on Thursday afternoon, allowing casinos and racetracks to open sportsbooks.

“It was the people of New Jersey who by public referendum [in 2011] voted to change the Constitution, saying that they wanted to be able to bet on sports legally,” said Assemblymember John Burzichelli (D-Gloucester), one of the bill’s sponsors, after the vote. “The Legislature has taken that direction and today, with the support of the United States Supreme Court, we have passed the regulatory structure that will allow sports gaming in New Jersey to be conducted.”

The Senate bill was substituted entirely by the Assembly version, which had been amended before passage. Both chambers needed to approve the same language for the bill to pass in full.

Once again, the vote was unanimous.

What happened in the NJ Legislature

Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling moved to have the bill introduced as an emergency, which passed 71-0. He spoke of the bill glowingly, including how it would return jobs to the struggling casinos and racetracks.

Assemblyman Anthony Bucco rose to suggest the bill be sent back to committee to amend the legislation and allow more money for tax rebates. That motion was tabled by a 45-21 vote.

Shortly after that, Assemblyman Ralph Caputo recounted the yearslong battle that saw the bill reach this stage.

“I can’t stress enough how big of a boost this will bring to our state’s economy,” said Caputo (D-Essex). “Sports gambling has been going on for so long, and now the state can finally regulate this activity and reap some of the revenue so we can fund programs which will benefit all of our residents, including those who need it most. This will bring jobs back to New Jersey and contribute to the revitalization of Atlantic City. This is a big win.”

He also took part of his speech to recognize the efforts of former state Sen. Ray Lesniak, who received applause from the chamber. Lesniak told reporters he seeks to make the first bet at Monmouth Park, which hopes to open before Murphy signs the bill into law, on the New York Giants to win the Super Bowl, currently listed at 40-1 odds.

On Monday, during the Tourism, Gaming and the Arts committee hearing, Caputo asked the league officials to remunerate New Jersey for the $9 million they spent fighting for legal sports betting. The legal battle ended May 14 in the Supreme Court decision that overturned PASPA. Caputo referenced that comment again during Thursday’s session.

In the end, both chambers moved the bill forward.

What about a Golden Nugget sportsbook?

One of the amendments to the NJ sports betting bill cleared the path for casinos linked to sports leagues, such as Golden Nugget, to open sportsbooks. However, the sportsbook is not allowed to offer wagers on the leagues in which those teams participate.

What this means is that a Golden Nugget sportsbook can exist, but it won’t be able to take bets on any NBA games.

This provision is stricter than those in Las Vegas, where Tilman Fertitta’s Golden Nugget can take action on the NBA but not Houston Rockets’ games. (Fertitta owns the Houston franchise.)

The amendment was good news for Golden Nugget AC’s general manager, Tom Pohlman:

“We are grateful to the legislature for listening to our concerns and including the Golden Nugget in the sports betting legislation. We look forward to taking our first bets on professional and college football, baseball, college basketball, soccer, hockey, MMA, etc. While we recognize that today the legislation will prohibit us from accepting wagers solely on the NBA, we hope to persuade the lawmakers over time that the total NBA ban is unnecessary and should be limited simply to the Houston Rockets team owned by Mr. Fertitta.”

Murphy’s signature on the bill has not been guaranteed. There is speculation that Murphy could withhold his signature while budget negotiations continue.

Burzichelli noted without a regulatory restriction the books could open today with the governor’s signature. However, the casinos will need licenses to operate and take wagers.

He also speculated a book could open on the grounds of the former Garden State racetrack in Cherry Hill. The sprawling shopping plaza could accommodate at least one book and offer attractive options to those traveling from Philadelphia.

NJ Sports Betting Clears Legislative Hurdles As Committees Advance Bills

After a two-hour New Jersey Assembly committee hearing that ranged from congratulatory to confrontational, the NJ sports betting bill regulating sportsbooks in the state moves one step closer to Thursday’s expected final vote.

TRENTON — The New Jersey Assembly’s Tourism, Gaming, and the Arts committee unanimously passed a new bill to open and regulate sports betting Monday morning in Trenton.

It was the start of a marathon series of committee meetings for the NJ Legislature.

The Assembly’s Appropriations Committee passed an amended version of the same bill shortly thereafter. The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee followed suit, passing a similar version of the bill (S2602) in the afternoon. 

The bills will now head to a full vote on Thursday, as the Garden State hopes to open sportsbooks in Atlantic City and other locations by this weekend.

What changed in the NJ sports betting bill?

The state’s victory in Murphy v. NCAA last month brought the legislation to life.

Assemblyman Ralph R. Caputo (D-Essex), a former casino employee, celebrated the Supreme Court victory with his opening statement. He called NJ sports betting a “boon” for the state and even suggested “this will generate more revenue than anticipated” from previous estimations.

The original bill, A3911, was introduced before the US Supreme Court decision but was pulled days before the hearing. After almost two hours of testimony that saw friendly and feisty exchanges, the new bill, A4111, headed to the Assembly Appropriations Committee for afternoon discussion.

The afternoon session featured a long delay as committee chair Assemblyman Steve Burzichelli (D-Gloucester) and others spent nearly two hours in recess considering amendments.

The meeting’s amendment saw the 1.25 percent tax on winnings at state racetracks diverted from the host counties and municipalities and funneled to the Division of Local Government Services, a part of the NJ Department of Community Affairs.

Once collected, the individual municipalities and counties would have to apply for the funds to use for economic development purposes. The amendment of the bill could cause complications unless the Senate adds a similar amendment to its bill. 

The bill includes an 8.5 percent tax on bets made in person and a 13.5 percent tax on bets made online. The bill will not seek any integrity fees, which hasn’t found many friends in state houses.

No love for integrity fees or sports leagues

Testimony in each committee hearing ranged from celebratory with Monmouth Park CEO Dennis Drazin — long a supporter of sports betting and a direct beneficiary of the opened market — to confrontational with representatives of the NBA, MLB, and PGA Tour.

The Atlantic City veteran who ran the first committee hearing in the morning turned from a glad-handing host with his allies to a no-nonsense pit boss admonishing the state’s former legal rivals.

When the integrity fee discussions happened, the leagues tried to discuss the additional costs of regulating the games, the costs of maintaining legitimate and reliable data and working with enforcement agencies.

Caputo wouldn’t hear it.

After directly asking why the leagues thought they needed the fees, and getting no suitable answers, he called the fee “hypocrisy to the fullest extent” and suggested the leagues approach the FBI if they were concerned with game integrity.

Before the Assembly Appropriations committee recess, originally scheduled for 10 minutes, Burzichelli took only one testimony from Dan Spillane, the NBA’s SVP and Assistant General Counsel, League Governance & Policy.

Spillane attempted to discuss integrity issues, but Burzichelli responded quickly, saying his comments weren’t relevant to the proposed amendment.

DraftKings, FanDuel seek clarity

From the gaming side, DraftKings and FanDuel testified in support of the bill but wanted some expansion on language regarding the location of the proposed betting lounges.

Their suggestion to modify the bill and allow more space for the lounges wasn’t added.

Caputo and the state appear focused on opening the sportsbooks with all expediency and seem sore that Delaware, which is taking its first bets on Tuesday, will beat them to the punch.

Other discussions at the NJ sports betting bill hearings

Atlantic City City Council President Marty Small Sr. spoke in support of the bill. He noted that “no one will offer the amount of amenities the Atlantic City casinos have.”

NJ legislators expressed a desire to bring more jobs back to the seaside resort now under state control. Other civic groups hoped to see more revenue stay within the city, opening more services for residents and renewing the promise to benefit Atlantic City.

But perhaps the most dramatic speaker was former MLB veteran, Al Leiter. At the first Assembly committee hearing, he voiced adamant concern for the “profound risk” that an expanded sports betting market would invite.

Having books open so close to major and minor league parks makes players “so much more vulnerable” to schemers. He also cited how little those in lower levels make and the unlikelihood they’ll make the majors.

He cited these concerns as part of why Bud Selig, the former MLB commissioner when Leiter served as a player rep, never wanted a team in Las Vegas.

We’re A Week From Action On NJ Sports Betting Bill As Assembly Sets Committee Date

The Assembly Tourism, Gaming, and the Arts Committee will debate a proposed NJ sports betting bill on June 4, according to sources in the New Jersey Legislature.

The Assembly Tourism, Gaming and the Arts Committee will debate a proposed bill to regulate sports betting on June 4, according to sources in the New Jersey Legislature.

Where we’re at with NJ sports betting

Bill A 3911 has been active for most of the month as the Garden State looks to open sportsbooks at casinos and racetracks, as well as online NJ sports betting.

The Assembly bill was introduced a week before the US Supreme Court ruled in New Jersey’s favor and struck down PAPSA, the 1992 federal legislation that blocked the expansion of single-game wagering beyond Nevada.

The state Senate is also considering a bill introduced by Sen. Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester), the president of that chamber.

Caputo pushing bill

A 3911, proposed by six members of the Assembly, is currently being vetted by the Democratic leadership in Trenton and is expected to come before Asm. Ralph Caputo’s (D-Essex) committee.

Should the bill advance, the first voting session to approve it will be June 7, a date also considered for Sweeney’s proposed legislation.

“For far too long, New Jersey, a mecca of legalized casino gaming, has been left in the shadows with regards to this issue, being held hostage to antiquated and unconstitutional federal law,” Caputo said in a statement. “There are ample benefits to having legal sports gaming in our state, and I am excited to push forward to bring more people and revenue to our racetracks and Atlantic City casinos.”

“Now, with this long-overdue decision being made, it is time to make New Jersey the legal sports gaming hub in the country,” Caputo continued. “I look forward to working with others in the legislature and Gov. Murphy’s administration to make this become a reality.”

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What’s next for the NJ sports betting bill?

These coordinated efforts in the Assembly and Senate serve the common goal of passing legislation before lawmakers recess at the end of June.

Sweeney previously threatened to exclude any operators who attempted to open books before the new legislation passed. Monmouth Park has said previously it would be open for sports wagers today, but that didn’t happen.

Sweeney also has said that casinos with interest in pro sports franchises should not be allowed to take wagers. Such a provision could affect Borgata, Golden Nugget, and the three Caesars-owned properties.

Physical sportsbooks in New Jersey could be open for the World Cup, which starts in June. New Jersey is just one of several states, such as Connecticut and New York, still considering sports betting legislation this year.

The US Senate has also discussed drafting new federal legislation, which has earned support from major sports organizations such as the NFL, NCAA and the NBA.

NCAA Universities Near The Garden State React To NJ Sports Betting Decision

After the NJ sports betting case came to a close, NCAA schools in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and across the US responded in typical fashion before the NCAA changed its tune on legal US sports betting.

Last week, the US Supreme Court voted 6-3 in favor of New Jersey and deemed the federal law banning sports betting in most states unconstitutional.

The state challenged PASPA and most major national sports leagues, including the NCAA. As the dust settles, the Garden State looks to move forward and open sportsbooks in Atlantic City and other locations during the summer.

We reached out to the 22 Division I universities in New Jersey and neighboring Pennsylvania to gauge their reactions to the decision. The two Big Ten rivals, Penn State and Rutgers, commented.

Reactions on NJ sports betting

Penn State released this university statement the day of the Supreme Court’s decision:

“The law adopted by Pennsylvania in anticipation of this decision outlines a temporary regulation process that will take months to complete. As the largest FBS intercollegiate athletics program in Pennsylvania, we will be monitoring this issue and its process closely, and will actively engage when necessary to see that the interests of the University and its student-athletes are represented appropriately.”

Rutgers gave this statement on last week Wednesday from athletic director Patrick Hobbs:

“As an NCAA member institution, Rutgers remains committed to adhering to all association bylaws. These rules prohibit sports gambling of any kind by student-athletes, coaches, administrators, or anyone else involved in college athletics. Monday’s Supreme Court ruling does not alter our approach or position on this matter.”

Philadelphia-based Big 5 members La Salle, St. Joseph’s, and Temple declined to comment. Monmouth University, a school very close to the proposed William Hill sportsbook at racetrack Monmouth Park, also declined to comment.

Responses from other schools outside the Delaware Valley

Other major universities reacted to the May 14 decision. The Rev. John Jenkins, president of the University of Notre Dame, issued a statement about the ruling which allows states to legalize sports gambling:

“As various parties consider implications of (Monday’s) Supreme Court decision, we urge all to recognize that in intercollegiate sports the athletes are first of all students, and everything should be done to preserve the integrity of the competition and promote the well-being of the student-athletes who compete.”

Joe Castiglione, athletic director at the University of Oklahoma, released this statement:

“We have been tracking this issue and have been anticipating a decision. Now that the Supreme Court has ruled, we’re processing the details and trying to gain a clearer understanding of all of the considerations involved. As a department, we have long been dedicated to educating our student-athletes about impermissible activities, including gambling, as well as monitoring what we’re capable of at the institutional level.

“Going forward, I think it’s important for universities and colleges to seek the assistance of our respective states in developing a regulatory approach in order to properly manage our overall responsibility in this new age, as well as uphold the integrity of our competitions.”

The NJ sports betting case could lead to shifts in NCAA policy. Prior to last week’s decision, Las Vegas wasn’t eligible to host postseason contests because of the proximity to the sportsbooks. 

UNLV athletic director Desiree Reed-Francois hopes this policy will change, as she mentioned in a statement: “Working collaboratively with local and regional leaders, we are confident that Las Vegas can present competitively to host future competitions, as there is a proven track record of success in hosting multiple, large-scale sporting events here in Southern Nevada.”

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NCAA changes its position on sports betting

Three days following the decision, the NCAA released a statement with a changed stance and suspended its policy banning championship events in states that legalize sports betting.

“Our highest priorities in any conversation about sports wagering are maintaining the integrity of competition and student-athlete well-being,” said Mark Emmert, NCAA president. “Sports wagering can adversely impact student-athletes and undermine the games they play. We are committed to ensuring that laws and regulations promote a safe and fair environment for the nearly half a million students who play college athletics.”  

“While we recognize the critical role of state governments, strong federal standards are necessary to safeguard the integrity of college sports and the athletes who play these games at all levels,” Emmert added.

No schools we previously contacted updated their positions after the NCAA’s stance changed.