NJ Advances ‘Feel Good’ Bill Requiring Colleges To Offer Gambling Ed Programs

Written By David Danzis on December 12, 2023 - Last Updated on December 28, 2023
helmet for rutgers football for a story on assembly bill requiring responsible gambling program at new jersey colleges

New Jersey lawmakers are using the legislature’s lame-duck session to advance a bill that requires colleges and universities to offer a gambling addiction awareness program if the school partners with a sports betting operator.

The state Assembly overwhelmingly voted in favor (72-1) of a proposal (A5498) mandating NJ institutions of higher learning to provide students and athletes with educational materials that promote responsible gambling behavior.

NJ sports betting proposal aims at non-existent target

The new law only applies to colleges or universities that partner with an NJ sports betting operator or intermediary.

Which, essentially, makes bill A5498 nothing more than feel-good public relations. That is because New Jersey lawmakers, in their haste to combat rising rates of problem gambling among young people, are addressing something that does not exist.

None of the licensed sportsbooks in NJ are partnered with any in-state college or university. Furthermore, the gambling industry itself has committed to eliminating the practice of partnering with schools after a swift public backlash in places such as Maryland, Colorado, Michigan and Louisiana.

Jersey has complicated relationship with schools and sports betting

That has not stopped New Jersey lawmakers from introducing problem gambling prevention legislation.

In March, an Assembly committee moved a bill (A5226) to ban colleges and universities from partnering with operators completely. The bill has not made any progress since.

Another bill (A5308) would require NJ high schools to instruct students on the risks of compulsive gambling. That bill has not gained any traction either.

New Jersey is one of only a handful of legal sports gambling states prohibiting betting on in-state colleges and universities, or any collegiate athletics in the Garden State. NJ voters turned down the opportunity to roll back that provision in 2021.

Gambling regs in Jersey are best in country

Being proactive against problem gambling is the best approach, according to experts. In that sense, NJ is already (way?) ahead of the curve compared to every other state in the country.

New Jersey is the only state to require annual reports about the impact of online gambling and legal sports betting, partnering (ironically) with the Rutgers University Center for Gambling Studies. The yearly updates found that NJ has a problem gambling rate that is nearly three times the national average.

The Garden State is the only legal gambling jurisdiction in the US that requires online operators to monitor user activity for warning signs of problematic behaviors. NJ is also the only state with a dedicated responsible gambling coordinator as part of its regulatory framework.

Photo by Barry Reeger / AP Photo
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David Danzis

David Danzis is the lead writer for PlayNJ. He is a New Jersey native and honors graduate of Rutgers University. As a newspaper reporter for the New Jersey Herald and Press of Atlantic City, David earned statewide awards for his coverage of politics, government, education, sports, and business. Today, he is PlayNJ’s Atlantic City “insider” and gaming industry expert on casinos, sports betting, and online gambling. David lives in Atlantic County, NJ with his wife and two children.

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