Good news came for New Jersey sports bettors two weeks ago: The US Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act to clear a path for legalized NJ sports betting.
In return, good news emerged Tuesday for NJ casinos and incoming sportsbooks: A recent poll by Fairleigh Dickinson University found that nearly two-thirds of adults in the Garden State are in favor of instituting sports betting in all 50 states.
How the poll was conducted
The New Jersey university brought in Key Research Solutions out of Utah to conduct the poll via telephone May 16-21. Computerized random-digit dialing allowed interviewers to speak with 926 New Jersey residents about the topic.
Questions in the poll included:
- How much have you heard or read about the sports betting case?
- Do you favor or oppose changing the law to allow people to wager on sports in all sports?
- Why do you support or oppose legalizing sports betting?
- If wagering is legalized, do you approve or disapprove of the state sharing tax revenue with professional teams?
The majority of respondents (64 percent) were white. Women made up 51 percent of the respondents, while 48 percent said they were Democrats (31 percent were Republicans and 16 percent were independent). Of the respondents, 35 percent said they were 60 years or older, 35 percent said they fell in the 35-59 age range, and 28 percent said they were 18-34 years old.
FDU said the margin of error in results was 3.5 percentage points.
NJ strongly favors legalized sports betting
Results of the poll indicated that 62 percent of adults were in favor of legalizing sports betting in all 50 states. That was the highest percentage seen by FDU on the issue.
A previous FDU poll, which had its results publicized just after the SCOTUS decision, showed that 50 percent of Americans favored sports betting.
And here’s why: 47 percent of respondents said legalizing sports wagering would lead to more tax revenue for states, while 39 percent simply said because people are already engaging in the industry.
Certainly, there were those against implementing legalize sports betting. Of those opposed, 44 percent said it promotes gambling addiction, while 20 percent said it “opens the door for organized crime.” Interestingly, only 19 percent of respondents said sports betting “changes the expectation that the event or game is fair.”
When PASPA was passed in 1992, the thinking was banning sports betting protects the fairness and integrity of sports.
And then there’s that integrity fee…
Speaking of integrity, pro leagues are asking states for 1 percent — or less — of total gaming revenue as an “integrity fee.”
The leagues say that would help prevent cheating and game-fixing. NJ Senate President Stephen Sweeney is adamantly against such a cut and even compared it to “extortion.”
Respondents of the recent FDU poll seem to share a similar thinking as 62 percent are against sharing revenue.
What’s in store for NJ sports betting
The good news is NJ casinos and racetracks have a public backing when it comes to sports betting.
The Garden State got ahead of the game in 2014 when then-Gov. Chris Christie signed a new law partially repealing state prohibitions on wagering. Still, sports betting cannot get going until the state enacts a regulatory framework.
New Jersey lawmakers are scrambling to piece together a bill that would regulate and tax betting. The legislation is expected to be voted on in the Assembly and Senate on June 7. A committee hearing is set for June 4.
Gov. Phil Murphy said that details of the bill “are still being worked out.”
AC casinos are getting all their ducks in a row
Expecting regulations to be rolled out soon, several NJ institutions are laying the groundwork to offer sports betting once a law is signed by Murphy.
Monmouth Park racetrack and Ocean Resort Casino, for example, have both partnered with British bookmaker William Hill.
Other Atlantic City casinos such as Golden Nugget and Borgata have probable partnerships in the works. Borgata says it’s ready to go on day one of NJ sports betting. But once again, a brief waiting period is necessary before NJ bettors can get into the action.
That said, the public’s support of sports betting is promising, said Krista Jenkins, the FDU’s poll director and a political science professor at FDU.
“If support for the expansion is any indication of how widespread of a pastime this will become, New Jersey is poised to become a state with a lot of action around professional sporting events.”