The questionable relationship between college athletics and legal sports betting has recently attracted much national scrutiny. Last month, it was enough to capture the attention of at least one New Jersey lawmaker.
Assembly Deputy Speaker Mila Jasey, D-Morris/Essex, wants public colleges and universities to administer a gambling addiction prevention program if they decide to partner with NJ sportsbooks. Bill A5498 would require public schools with sportsbook partnerships to give students “educational materials that promote responsible gambling behavior.”
The rationale behind the proposal is unclear. The legislation has no co-sponsors, and Jasey’s office has not yet commented on the bill, which was introduced on May 25.
Proposed NJ sports betting law aligns with industry goals
Jasey’s NJ bill would go into effect immediately if it were signed into law.
The proposal is short and sweet; it’s just two pages long. It says that any NJ school that partners with a sportsbook must provide students with information about a gambling addiction hotline.
Specifically, it states the “hotline shall be posted on the website of the institution and in each sports facility, dormitory, library, and student center, and any other facility or area on campus that the institution determines to be appropriate.”
The American Gaming Association, the commercial gambling industry’s Washington DC-based lobbying arm, recently updated its Responsible Marketing Code for operators. The code prohibits targeting underage college students with advertising that suggests “free” bets or promotions.
Most NJ sportsbook operators voluntarily eliminated the use of such language in their marketing efforts before the AGA’s updates.
Long odds of colleges, NJ sportsbooks hooking up
A partnership between a New Jersey university and a sportsbook seems highly unlikely.
For starters, in the five years since NJ took its first legal sports wager, there have been no known attempts for state schools and sportsbooks to team up.
That might be because of how NJ handles sports betting and in-state collegiate athletics.
New Jersey law prohibits legal sportsbooks from taking bets on games involving state schools or college athletics events within the Garden State’s borders. A major college basketball tournament in Atlantic City partnered with Tipico Sportsbook earlier this spring, even though neither Tipico nor AC’s nine casinos could offer lines for any of the games.
National microscope on sports betting, college relationship
But the timing of Jasey’s idea is also curious.
At this moment, there is a white-hot spotlight on a growing sports betting market that, only five years short years ago, operated almost entirely in the shadows.
At least two high-profile incidents involving college athletics and sports betting have occurred this year alone. There is also a purported rise in gambling addiction among college-aged Americans.
As legalized sports betting evolves, there are bound to be growing pains.
PoinstBet Sportsbook and the University of Colorado ended their controversial partnership in March. According to reports, the university received direct payments from the sportsbook when new customers signed up to use the PointsBet app.
Within the last few days, Caesars Sportsbook and Michigan State University took action to address one of those missteps. The two parties agreed to terminate their $9-million, 5-year partnership just 18 months after it began. Caesars and Louisiana State University terminated a similar arrangement shortly after that.