New Jersey College Sports Betting Facing an Uphill Battle

New Jersey is not likely to see gambling expansion in November, as the proposed state constitutional amendment does not get the necessary public support, the latest FDU poll suggests.

67% against Betting on Local College Teams

The proposed measure to allow wagering on college sports events with the participation of local teams is facing an uphill battle on the upcoming November Referendum as two-thirds of voters are currently opposing the measure, while only a quarter is favoring the change to the state constitution. According to the poll, 49% of respondents believed betting on games involving local sports teams should not be allowed, while 26% either did not want to provide an answer, or were unsure whether to support the measure or not.

Unlike wagering on professional sports, which was allowed since PASPA was struck down in 2018 and Gov. Phil Murphy signed the sports wagering bill into law, the Garden State still prohibits betting on any contest which involves a state school, as well as any college sports event which takes place in the state.

In a concerted move in June, a majority in the state Assembly voted in favor of adding the measure to the ballot in November, after the bill passed the Senate with 36-1 votes.

According to Dan Cassino from Fairleigh Dickinson University, a professor of government and politics and the executive director of the poll, the proposal is far from gaining the necessary public support to pass the ballot, but the poll suggested it has the potential to do so.

Hidden Potential from Undecided Voters

Dan Cassino noted that the poll showed that many voters are still undecided. It is up to the proponents of the measure to gain their approval before November to make sure the measure gets voter approval.

The state excluded betting on college sports in the original bill due to the prevailing public belief that, as student-athletes are not getting paid, they can be more susceptible to pressure from organizations and individuals looking to influence the outcome of a particular game. That argument is no longer valid, though, after a Supreme Court ruling and a change in the NCAA rules allowed student-athletes to get paid.

When adding the benefits for New Jersey casinos, as all wagering should go through one of the land-based gaming establishments or an online operator affiliated with a casino or a racetrack, the proponents of the bill will be looking to sway the public in favor of the measure.

Young people are more likely to vote in favor of the measure. The poll showed, after 36% of respondents under 35 replied, that they would support the proposal, while only 11% of the senior group of respondents said they would favor the measure.

Considering the fact that in off-year elections older and more educated voters are likely to turn out in disproportions, and that such is the case in November 2021, the chances of the measure to pass are going further down, especially after only 22% of college degree holders in the poll supported it.

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