New Jersey law prohibits wagers placed on collegiate games taking place here or involving New Jersey teams – like Rutgers football’s Scarlet Knights and Seton Hall’s Pirates basketball team – and a new survey shows residents would like to keep it that way.
Voters heading to the polls this November will get to decide on a constitutional amendment that would change state law and expand sports betting to New Jersey college teams or home games. According to a July 8 Fairleigh Dickinson University poll, just 25% of New Jersey voters said they would be in favor of the proposal.
A broader 49% of voters said it should still be banned, while 23% said they were not sure if the bans should continue, according to the report, which relied on 803 New Jersey voters interviewed by phone between June 9 and 16. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.46 percentage points.
“[S]upporters are going to need to change a lot of minds if they want to get this passed,” reads a statement from Dan Cassino, an FDU politics professor who headed the poll. “Supporters have to explain what they’re proposing, and hope that voters are going to buy in.”
Since the sports-betting market formally opened in June 2018, New Jerseyans have flocked to place wagers in what has become a lucrative, multibillion dollar industry.
Most of the interest has been via online and mobile apps–especially during the pandemic when casinos had to shutter their brick and mortar facilities for several months, and then subsequently operate with restrictions on crowds. Patrons wagered $4.5 billion on sports in 2019, of which nearly $3.6 billion was online or via mobile app, with the rest at one of nearly two dozen brick and mortar sportsbooks. In 2020 amid the COVID-19 restrictions, patrons wagered more than $6 billion, of which $5.5 billion was online.
Interest in the state’s nine brick-and-mortar casinos has only just begun to rebound as restrictions are lifted.
[S]upporters are going to need to change a lot of minds if they want to get this passed.
– Dan Cassino
But despite that record turnout for the sportsbooks, “there’s just no appetite for expanding gaming again,” Cassino said. The poll found that younger Republican men were the most likely group to support the expansion of sports betting.
“[O]pposition is some combination of not wanting to change things without understanding the options, and just plain opposition to more expansion of gambling in the state,” Cassino added.
Sen. Paul Sarlo, D-36th District, who sponsored the proposed constitutional amendment, said last November that the move was motivated by the NCAA’s decision to hold its 2025 East Regional at Prudential Center in Newark, with Seton Hall University as the host.
“We just felt it was not fitting for us to just sit back and not collect that revenue,” he said, assuring that the NCAA,which regulates college athletics, was okay with the decision.
NCAA did not return requests for comment on this and prior stories on the proposed constitutional amendment.
“Events and tournaments such as March Madness are highly anticipated by sports bettors all over the country. With a majority vote, we will be able to give the people in New Jersey the opportunity to place wages on our collegiate teams and continue to enjoy the sporting events in our state,” reads a joint June 24 statement from two of the constitutional amendment’s sponsors, Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling and Assemblywoman, Joann Downey, both D-11th District.