When New Jersey voters go to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 2, they will decide the fate of New Jersey in-state college sports betting (and some other less important measures).
A public question on the general election ballot will ask voters to determine if a constitutional amendment is appropriate to allow sports betting on New Jersey colleges or collegiate athletic events taking place in the state.
In-State Collegiate Sports Betting on the Line
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.”
Here’s what the ballot summary says about the public question:
“Currently, the State Constitution prohibits wagering on college sport or athletic events taking place in New Jersey. It also prohibits wagering on an event in which a New Jersey college team participates. 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. Such wagering would be permitted only through casinos and current or former horse racetracks.”
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.
Poll Showed Less Support Than Expected
Surprisingly, a Farleigh Dickinson University poll conducted in July showed only 25% of responding voters approved of a constitutional amendment to legalize in-state collegiate sports betting in New Jersey.
The referendum question was widely expected to be approved in the November election. However, according to FDU poll results 25% of polled registered voters said that betting on college sports should be allowed, with 49%) saying that it should continue to be banned. The remaining 26% were unsure or didn’t want to answer the question.
Only 22% of respondents with a college degree supported the measure.
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 in August.
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.