NJ Considers In-State College Betting for March Madness

The lawmakers of New Jersey have moved quickly in attempt open up the Garden State’s restrictive college sports betting laws a mere day after being awarded one of March Madness’ regional host sites for the 2025 version of the prestigious college basketball tournament.

State Senator Paul Sarlo last week announced the creation of an in-state college sports betting bill to permit eligible New Jersey sports bettors to bet on games in the 2025 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament that have been announced to take place at the Prudential Center in Newark.

Although New Jersey leads the way as the most important and influential sports wagering state in the nation (even including longtime-leader Nevada), the Garden State imposes some of the strictest regulations on college betting, including a ban on wagering for NCAA events played within New Jersey state lines.

However, it’s not a wholesale lifting of the betting ban on college games, its more partial and gradual than that. Remember, New Jersey’s current position as undisputed U.S. sports betting leader has come without any betting on college games in the Garden State.

The 3 weeks of March Madness games are historically among the biggest of the year for sportsbooks and of course, if part of the tournament is held in New Jersey then its sportsbooks are going to want a slice of the sports betting pie. How big is it? The American Gaming Association (AGA) estimate Americans wager as much as $8.5 billion on the NCAA tournament annually.

The legislation proposes betting on college play-off, post-season and tournament only, not regular season matches featuring Seton Hall, Rutgers Or Princeton or any other New Jersey college team.

If approved by the State’s lawmakers, the amended college sports gambling section of the New Jersey State constitution would read as follows;

“except that it shall be lawful for the Legislature to authorize by law wagering at casinos or gambling houses in Atlantic City on the results of any college sport or athletic event that is a tournament, playoff, championship, or other postseason competition that takes place in New Jersey, including any such event in which a New Jersey college team participates, and that is sanctioned by a non-profit collegiate athletic association led by its members.”

By New Jersey law, an amendment to the State Constitution requires a minimum of a 60% majority to pass into law. Importantly for online sports bettors, Sarlo’s proposed bill only covers off on land-based sports betting and wagers placed at racetracks and casinos in New Jersey which make up only about 10% of the betting handle.

An additional bill, or further amendment would be required to make online betting on college games a reality, but it is a start. As Senator Sarlo says:

“New Jersey has become the country’s biggest sports betting market, and the Meadowlands is the largest sports wagering facility in the state,” said Senator. Sarlo, whose electoral district includes home of the Giants, MetLife Stadium.

“This is an important opportunity we have to capitalize upon.” he said.

“We need to support and sustain this growing market that is fast becoming a significant part of our regional and state economies,” Sarlo said. “March Madness is a high-profile event on the sports betting calendar and we (New Jersey) should be a key player.”

If approved, the New Jersey in-state sports betting bill would be going against national trends.

As announced recently, Virginia expects to launch its sports betting industry soon, however there’s been no room made for legal college sports betting. Additionally, as Massachusetts considers its options and potential legal sports wagering model, there has been significant opposition to an inclusion of college sports betting.

NFL football under its sports betting belt and with MLB, NHL and the NBA all participating in their respective playoffs to beat the already huge August result by a clear $80 million.

The Official Result

According to the official report released from the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General, online sports betting accounted for the bulk of New Jersey’s September 2020 sports betting handle. Records indicate that the online handle for New Jersey totaled $678 million for the month of September or put simply, 90% of the total sports bets made in the Garden State. That figure is also a new record for monthly mobile sports betting handle, both for the State of new Jersey and nationally.

Year-to-date, New Jersey sports betting accumulated a total of $3.2 billion in betting. For context, that amount surpasses the figure that Atlantic City’s Casinos used to make in an entire calendar year before the time that sports betting was not legal in the Garden State. The $748.6 million September betting handle total includes the total amount of sports bets taken by Atlantic City’s nine casinos and three race tracks, but that number is dwarfed by the number and value of online wagers.

The New Jersey September sports betting handle represented a year-on-year increase of 68% on the $184 million wagered in September 2019 and a 12.2% month-on-month increase over the August sports betting handle.

Revenue raised from NJ sports betting also reported a compelling increase with the State’s legal sportsbooks generating $45.1 million in revenue in September. That revenue represented a 19% year-on-year increase and a rise of 14.2% on the August 2020 sports betting revenue.

Breaking down the September NJ Sports Betting Numbers

Examining the numbers are little more in depth, Meadowlands Racetrack and its online sportsbook partners PointsBet and FanDuel remain New Jersey State market leaders after generating a combined $28.2 million in sports betting revenue, a 66.9% year-on-year increase.

DraftKings and Fox Bet partnered with Resorts Digital finished in second place again for the second consecutive month in the Garden State after generating $4.8m in revenue in September. However, this result was down on the $10.7m generated in August.

On the flip side, BetMGM and Borgata saw a sports betting revenue increase of 173% up to $4.1 million for the dual sportsbook operator. Monmouth Park Racecourse, which is partnered with William Hill sportsbook was next in line generating $3.5 million in betting revenue.

‘Other’ sports continue to dominate the New Jersey market

Bettors in New Jersey State wagered $98.8 million on basketball matches, traditionally not a sport on the September sports calendar but finding itself there after restarting after the global pandemic sports shutdown.

A bigger and far more traditional September sport led the way for sports betting in New Jersey in Football. Accounting for $159 million or 21.6% of the state’s handle, football was the highest single-wagered sport with bettors, while the Garden State wagered $115.3 million on baseball matches.

Sports in the “other” category are defined as all sports that aren’t baseball, basketball, football or parlays. The “other” sports category including PGA Golf, MMA and Hockey, made up the largest category and up to $208.3 million of the Garden State’s total betting handle.

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