NJ College Sports Betting Expansion Looks Like A Bad Beat On Election Day

Written By David Danzis on October 28, 2021 - Last Updated on April 25, 2023
NJ college sports betting expansion unlikely to pass this year

The odds of New Jersey voters approving an expansion of college sports betting on Election Day are not looking good.

A recent poll from Stockton University suggests a majority of NJ voters are not in favor of allowing legal wagers on in-state college teams or collegiate events held in the Garden State.

According to the poll results, roughly 51% of voters oppose a constitutional amendment to expand college sports gambling in NJ. Only 37% support the measure.

Those numbers are on par with two previous polls showing strong opposition to the ballot question.
New Jersey’s General Election is Tuesday, Nov. 2.

Should voters reject the ballot question in 2021, state officials will likely ask again in 2023. The goal is to approve in-state college sports betting before the quarterfinal round of the 2025 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Newark’s Prudential Center.

College sports betting is not exactly a hot-button issue for voters

The polling results on this issue are not exactly surprising.

For one, public awareness surrounding the ballot question is not very high. In the Atlantic City region, there has been limited discussion around the question. It was barely mentioned last week during the East Coast Gaming Congress, which is the largest gambling conference in the U.S. outside of Nevada.

The Stockton poll shows 11% of those surveyed are unsure. That is a fairly high margin of undecided voters this late in an election cycle for a non-contentious matter.

And, since the policy is not a hot topic, it has not received much media attention. Even the NJ lawmakers who sponsored the legislative action in order to get the question on the ballot have been relatively quiet.

Wait, what are you asking me to vote on?

It could also be possible that voters may not fully understand what the measure proposes.

The ballot question itself is wordy and confusing. A hasty or careless voter could easily misinterpret what the measure entails, particularly if they fail to read the ballot summary.

It is likely that many NJ residents are unaware of the current law against betting on Rutgers football games or Seton Hall basketball games. It would be a safe bet to assume many NJ residents have no clue that gambling on the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference basketball tournament at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall is not offered at the casinos right next door to the arena.

Or, maybe they know and just don’t see a compelling reason to allow it.

Politics of gambling in N.J.

Finally, not to get too wonky on the political side of things, but the poll results also align with New Jersey voting trends.

Older, more affluent, more Republican-leaning voters tend to vote in higher numbers in off-year elections. Plus, with a Democratic incumbent in the Governor’s office, Republican-leaning voters are more likely to vote this year.

Generally speaking, older, wealthier, conservative voters have been less amenable to gambling-related matters. Both in 1976 (Atlantic City casino gaming) and in 2011 (sports betting), much of the voter opposition came from Republican-dominated counties throughout the state.

College sports betting will be back on the ballot in 2023

Bottom line: Do not bank on NJ voters approving an expansion of college sports betting on Nov. 2. New Jersey sports gamblers looking to bet on Garden State college teams will have to continue visiting a neighboring state. At least for the next couple of years.

Lead image credit: AP Photo/Julio Cortez

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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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