New Jersey voters will take to the polls this November to decide the fate of a referendum that would allow for sports betting on local New Jersey colleges.
However, a recent poll conducted by Farleigh Dickinson University revealed that only 25% of respondents supported the potential constitutional amendment to legalize in-state collegiate sports betting.
Legislators Support In-State College Betting
In response to the surprising poll results, New Jersey Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling (D-11) and State Senator Joann Downey (D-11) authored an op-ed piece for New Jersey’s Star-Ledger in support of the constitutional amendment.
New Jersey has offered sports betting since 2018, but bets on in-state collegiate programs have always been prohibited. State legislators approved a referendum question for the 2021 November general election ballot to amend the constitution to “permit sports wagering through casinos and current or former horse racetracks on certain sanctioned collegiate tournament, playoff, championship, or other postseason athletic competitions in New Jersey.”
If approved by voters, the constitutional amendment would allow the state 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.
When sports betting was originally legalized in 2018, Houghtaling and Downey noted in their piece that in-state collegiate sports betting was left out due to concerns over match-fixing. However, concerns were lessened after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to allow college athletes to be paid from commercials and endorsements, the legislators noted.
Keeping New Jersey Sports Betting Competitive
With increased sports betting competition, such as the soon to be launched New York online sports betting program, New Jersey needs to remain competitive in every way possible, they wrote.
“To maintain our state’s competitive edge as a gaming destination, New Jersey needs to join the seven other states that had legalized betting on in-state college teams by last March’s NCAA Basketball Tournament. If we don’t, we risk losing revenues and business to other states as we did when we lagged behind Delaware and New York in allowing racetracks to offer games of chance,” they wrote in the piece.
The referendum comes several years before Newark, N.J., is slated to host the regional rounds of the NCAA Men’s D-1 Basketball tournament at the Prudential Center in 2025.