New Jersey Voters Reject Allowing Betting on In-State College Teams

  • Over 56% of voters were against expanding the rules for betting on college sports
  • Proponents of the measure stated that there would be a significant increase in tax revenue
  • Voters did favor non-profits being able to use money from games of chance to fund operations
  • NJ broke the monthly record sports betting handle in September, handling more than $1bn in bets
Man dropping ballot into a box
New Jersey residents voted against allowing betting on in-state college teams and college events on Tuesday. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Not enough support

New Jersey voters have voted against allowing betting on New Jersey college teams and college sporting events that take place in the state. The ballot question on Tuesday that sought to amend the state’s constitution appears to have been rejected by 56.6% of voters after 97.5% of the precincts had reported results as of Wednesday morning.

only able to bet on college sporting events that take place outside of state lines

People in New Jersey are only able to bet on college sporting events that take place outside of state lines and don’t involve in-state college teams.

Only sportsbooks at casinos and former or current racetracks would have been able to accept the new types of bets had the measure gotten the green light.

Those in favor

Those in favor of expanding the rules on college sports betting noted that the state would have benefited from a significant uptick in tax revenue. The Office of Legislative Services was not able to provide an exact estimate as to how much such a tax boost would be, but it did note that the state budget, the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, and the local governments would have benefited.

The state currently charges a tax rate of 13% for online wagers and 8.5% for in-person bets.

Lawmakers previously had concerns that student-athletes would be enticed to throw or fix games if betting was allowable on in-state teams. Now that the NCAA has started to allow college athletes to make money off of their name and likeness, many legislators now believe that there is not as much of an attraction for athletes to alter their performances to try to fix games.

Non-profits get the go-ahead

Voters were in favor – 64% to 36% – of allowing non-profit groups to use funds from games of chance like bingo and raffles to help fund their operations. Previously, only senior citizen groups and veteran groups were able to use funds from games of chance in this manner.

Non-profit groups could only use this type of revenue in certain ways, such as for religious or educational purposes. The idea behind this particular ballot question was to help those organizations which were hit hard financially during the pandemic, as well as aid the 30,000 people who work in the sector.

neither of the gambling-related ballot questions got a huge amount of attention

Neither of the gambling-related ballot questions got a huge amount of attention in the lead-up to the referendum. There were not any significant television or billboard ads supporting one side or the other for these questions.

A lucrative sector in New Jersey

New Jersey has benefited massively since the end of the federal ban on sports betting in May 2018. In September, Garden State sportsbooks handled over $1bn worth of bets. This was the first time a state had bypassed the $1bn mark in betting handle, beating the previous record that New Jersey had set in December 2020.

Of the total handle of $1.01bn, $918.4m went through online sportsbooks. Sportsbook revenue for the month was $812.4m, an increase of almost 83% year-on-year. A key driver of the record handle in September was the beginning of the new college football and NFL seasons.