NJ College Sports Betting Bill Advances in the State Senate

Ken Edwards face
Ken Edwards
NJ College Sports Betting Bill Advances in the State Senate

New Jersey sports betting fans could soon have the opportunity to place wagers on college sports teams based in the Garden State. The State’s lawmakers have advanced the bill that would allow the state’s visitors and residents to place legal online wagers on college sports teams like Seton Hall, Rutgers, Monmouth, Princeton or Riders.

Current state law prohibits betting on college games played anywhere in New Jersey, and it also bans betting on games played in other states involving New Jersey teams. If passed into law, the bill would change the state’s constitution to allow for betting on those games. The catch? After safe passage of the bill, the matter will then need to go to the Garden State’s voters to pass by referendum.

How would the Referendum Question to NJ voters be worded?

If New Jersey is to permit in-state college sports wagering, the question that would be answered in the affirmative by the state’s voters will most likely be worded as follows: “Do you approve the amendment of the constitution to allow turnover through casinos and current or former horse racing tracks at all university sports or sporting events? It is also forbidden to bet on an event in which a team from a New Jersey college participates, so the word ‘all’ in the question is the most pertinent one.

The interpretative statement on the bill that accompanies the proposed referendum question reads in part: “This change will allow the legislature to adopt laws that allow turnover on college sports or athletic events. It would allow sales even if a New Jersey college team participates in the competition. Such trading would only be allowed through casinos and current or past horse racing tracks”.

New Jersey State Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling, a Democrat from Monmouth County District, said that historically there had been a level of concern about including collegiate teams in New Jersey in the state’s original sports betting law;

“A lot of people had a problem with that being included, so we didn’t put it in the original bill,” he said. “But sports betting in New Jersey has been very successful since then, and it’s time. New Jersey is picking up its level of play in college sports, and this would shine a greater spotlight on it.” Houghtaling concluded.

Another northern New Jersey Democrat, Senator Paul Sarlo, echoed Assemblyman Houghtaling’s sentiments;

“A lot of money is being left on the table for college betting, a lot of money. Sports betting has become pretty mainstream now (in New Jersey). I’m confident we’ll have this on the ballot in 2021”, the Senator proclaimed confidently.

However, the bill needs to harness more support across both Houses of New Jersey Legislature (Assembly and Senate) before it is sent to Governor Phil Murphy for signature, and any date for a potential referendum is known.

The good news is that the New Jersey Legislature has hearings through until the end of June, allowing time for the bill to be approved and a referendum implemented sometime in the fall, most likely in November.

It is estimated that a successful introduction of in-state college sports wagering could see a spike in New Jersey sports betting activity in particular for the many state residents who are alumni of powerful college sports schools like Seton Hall, Rutgers or Princeton. Fans of their respective college teams should know by the summer if they’ll have the opportunity to voice their support at the ballot box, or if they’ll need to continue to cross the state border for wagering on their favorite college teams.

The state’s sportsbooks are known to be readying themselves for the introduction of in-state college sports wagering in the Garden State.

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