It has not been shocking that New Jersey has become a leader in the US sports betting industry since the repeal of PAPSA in 2018. New Jersey sportsbooks have enjoyed unprecedented success despite the state prohibiting fans from betting on local college teams.
But that could change relatively soon.
A proposal is currently working its way through the state legislature that could lead to the betting restrictions on in-state teams and events getting lifted. When the state legalized sports betting, fans were prohibited from betting on in-state college teams over concerns about the integrity of the game and/or athletes.
But it appears that the desire for increased revenue could override any lingering concerns. Sen. Paul Sarlo, a northern New Jersey Democrat, had this to say in a recent AP report:
“A lot of money is being left on the table for college betting, a lot of money. Sports betting has become pretty mainstream now. I’m confident we’ll have this on the ballot in 2021.”
However, for the restrictions to get lifted, an amendment to the state constitution must be made. Such an amendment would require a vote by the people. Should Governor Phil Murphy sign off on the proposal, the question will go to the voters in the fall of 2021.
The question posed to the voters would read:
“Do you approve amending the Constitution to permit wagering through casinos and current or former horse racetracks on all college sport or athletic events? Currently, wagering is prohibited on college sport or athletic events that take place in New Jersey. Wagering is also prohibited on an event in which a team from a New Jersey college participates.”
The proposal received the approval of a Senate committee last November and a House committee in early May (the state Assembly Tourism, Gaming, and the Arts Committee). However, it will still need the approval of the full House and Senate before the proposal can cross Governor Murphy’s desk.
But will he approve it?
Murphy placed the first legal sports bet in New Jersey and has been public with his pride in how well the state’s sports betting has thrived. It would be surprising if he did not approve the proposal and let the voters decide.
A potential sticking point could be the absence of any language referring to online sports betting in the question. As the question reads, it sounds like betting on in-state teams and events will only be allowed at casinos and horse racetracks.
While that issue could be addressed in the legislation the state would have to pass following approval from the voters, the ambiguity could hinder progress.
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