New Jersey sports bettors will not be putting their cash down on Rutgers anytime soon – legally at least.
NJ voters on Tuesday rejected a ballot question that would have allowed wagering on college sports events held in the state.
Around 57% of voters voted ‘No’ on the question per the Associated Press, with 97% of precincts reported.
Why did NJ vote down local college sports betting?
While the rejection might seem surprising given NJ’s progressive approach to online gambling, it was predicted by the polls.
There was relatively little push behind the initiative. Also, voters might not have understood a complex question.
“I lobbied hard to get this on the ballot, but I couldn’t convince the industry to wage a campaign,” said NJ lobbyist Bill Pascrell III.
“I am not at all surprised that it failed. All polling showed it upside down. It failed because not many voters knew it was on the ballot and many also didn’t understand the question. This is unfortunately a missed opportunity for the industry that can’t be revisited for three years.”
A missed opportunity
Pascrell said the industry failed to back the measure sufficiently because “they thought it would pass easily.” He said a “modest $1 million campaign to educate and boost awareness” would have pushed the initiative across the line.
Per PlayNJ, the vote might have also been swayed by higher turnout among Republican-leaning voters.
Gaming attorney Jeff Ifrah added:
“It is always tough to send a measure to voters when the voters may not be fully informed of the full context of the measure.”
End of college NJ sports betting effort?
State officials will likely ask the NJ sportsbook question again at the next election.
Sportsbooks aim to approve in-state college sports betting before the quarterfinal round of the 2025 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Newark’s Prudential Center.
In the meantime, however, NJ bettors looking to back Farleigh Dickinson this season could turn to the black market or neighboring states.
How NJ compares to other states
NJ is far from the only state with this type of restriction.
Sports betting is legal and underway in 21 states or jurisdictions. Betting on local colleges is not allowed in 12 of them:
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New York
- Rhode Island
- South Dakota
NJ sports betting powers on
New Jersey sports betting, of course, is doing just fine without local college bets. NJ sportsbooks surpassed $1 billion in handle in September.
That said, there is optimism for another push in a couple of years.
“New Jersey is a fickle state,” said Porzio lobbyist Barbara DeMarco. “The fact that the referendum failed – well, I would say it failed for now.”