A resolution in the state Senate on wagering on a limited amount of New Jersey-related college sporting events is scheduled for a vote on Monday as the annual legislative session nears an end.
If approved, the ballot question in November 2021 would read as follows:
“Do you approve amending the Constitution to permit wagering through casinos and current or former racetracks on certain college sport or athletic events that are held in the state?
“Wagering would be permitted only on a college tournament, playoff, championship, or other postseason competition. Wagering would also be permitted on those competitions that a New Jersey college team participates in.
“The event would have to be sanctioned by a nonprofit collegiate athletic association.”
All the details
The interpretative statement, which would also be on the ballot:
“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 a college sport or athletic event held in New Jersey as a tournament, playoff, championship, or other postseason competition. 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.
“A nonprofit collegiate athletic association led by its members would have to sanction such an event. The Legislature would identify such an association by law.”
A further statement as part of the resolution — with its sole sponsor being Meadowlands-area state Senator Paul Sarlo — notes that “Sports wagering in New Jersey has become widely popular since the law first permitted it.
“In addition, New Jersey is home to many collegiate athletic postseason and tournament events, including National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) events.
“Future events have already been scheduled in New Jersey, such as the East Regional of the 2025 NCAA ‘March Madness’ Men’s College Basketball Tournament.
“March Madness is a major sporting event and extremely popular for sports bettors across the State and the country. With the addition of the East Regional taking place in New Jersey, the State should provide more opportunities to New Jersey bettors to participate legally in such tournaments.”
Sarlo recently told NJ Online Gambling that the measure also would be beneficial should MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands achieve its goal of hosting a college football bowl game.
Passage of such a resolution in the state Senate and Assembly this year by a majority vote would mean that only a similar vote would be required in 2021 to pave the way for a statewide referendum on the issue in the fall of 2021.
Without this vote, it would take a 3/5ths majority of both chambers next year to allow for the question to land on the ballot.
Horse racing fixed odds also on tap
Another bill up for a vote in the Senate on Monday would clarify the details on permission for state racetracks to offer “fixed odds” wagering on horse races — which already has been offered in very limited circumstances for the past two years.
The bill, sponsored by state Senator Vin Gopal and with an identical measure in the Assembly sponsored by Democrat Ralph Caputo and Republican Ronald Dancer, would authorize that “the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement may issue a license to the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority to establish a system.”
If a horse racing bettor likes a horse and bets it at 10/1 with 10 minutes to go before the race, there is no consolation if just before the race begins, the odds drop to as low as 3/1, for example.
But with fixed odds, there is no such worry.
The bill also would clarify that fixed odds for horse racing would take place under those regulations, and not sports betting’s regulations. Among the differences is that the minimum age would be 18 — not 21, as required for sports betting.
Monmouth Park’s thoroughbred horsemen reached an agreement on fixed odds wagering in February with Australian-based BetMakers.