Legislation that would change the New Jersey constitution to allow betting on Garden State schools or on athletic events taking place in the state passed its first hurdle.
The proposed amendment was unanimously passed by a state Senate panel Monday. If it makes its way through the legislature and is signed by Gov. Phil Murphy, it would be on the 2021 ballot and voters would have the final say.
Currently, wagering on New Jersey college teams or on college sports taking place in the state is prohibited. But when the NCAA announced that the 2025 men’s basketball tournament would hold its East Regional in Newark, Sen. Paul Sarlo introduced legislation to change the rules, so the state doesn’t miss out on tax dollars, according to a report from the Asbury Park Press.
“We just felt it was not fitting for us to just sit back and not collect that revenue,” said Sarlo during the Senate Budget Committee meeting. “Since I originally introduced the bill, the Senate President’s Office has reached out to the NCAA and they have indicated now that there is no issues with us at all, including opening it up to all collegiate events, including teams that are here in New Jersey.”
Since the tournament is one of the most popular events for gamblers to bet on, Sarlo doesn’t want the state to miss out on a quarter of those games.
New Jersey has emerged as arguably the most robust sports betting market in the country. Through the first 10 months of 2020, bettors have wagered $3.2 billion on sports. In September, the state set a record with a total sports betting handle of $748.58 million. Of the record-setting total, $678.7 million was bet on mobile apps.
Nevada, Pennsylvania and Mississippi are the only states in the country that allow betting on in-state college athletic teams and events. Given the proximity to New Jersey, Pennsylvania seems likely to pick up most of the revenue lost if the rules are not changed.