In many states across the US, sports betting is alive and well. Players have access to wagering via sportsbooks as well as online sports betting sites. In New Jersey, players have been able to wager on sports for quite some time, but there is a restriction in place that does not allow bets on college games. This week, legislation looking to change that has started to move forward. Members of a state Senate committee voted unanimously to allow residents and visitors the opportunity to wager on college games.
Changing the Law
A resolution was introduced by Paul Sarlo, the Senate Budget and Appropriations Chairman. If this bill is approved by full legislature, then a statewide referendum would be on the table in November of next year. Voters could then choose to allow legal wagering on college sporting events. This could open the door to options for betting by 2022, which would include March Madness and other major college events.
In the original resolution, it only allowed for wagering on tournament games in college sports that take place in the state. As the resolution was being considered, the NCAA stepped in and said they would not be objective to the state becoming one that allows college wagering as a whole. Several states already do so and are not limited to just postseason events.
According to Sarlo, a consultation has taken place with several universities in the state including Rutgers and Seton Hall. The athletic programs are also discussing how betting would affect their programs. The Attorney General’s office is also in the mix.
Overall, everyone seems to be on board with the change. In the time frame it would take to get the option passed into law, the college games can be added in safe manner, not affecting the integrity of the sports themselves.
It is expected that the full legislature will vote on the measure in November. It will take 3/5 of the majority within the senate and assembly to see the resolution placed on the ballot next year.
The reason a referendum is needed in this case is due to sports betting laws passed in 2011. In the passage of sports betting laws, the state allowed wagering on all types of games except for college events that take place in the state or features a team from a state run university or college.
This provision will need to be removed, so this takes voter approval again. The process may be long, but if all goes well, players will be able to wager on college events in the future, which will provide more wagering options plus additional revenues for the state.
In the beginning, there was consideration for college wagering as legislation was being crafted to legalize sports betting in the state. However, there was not enough support from other lawmakers to include the option in the measures so it was left out.
We shall see in the coming days if the full legislature votes on the resolution and if it will move forward as a ballot referendum in 2021.