If passed, the NJ amendment could set the path for other states to follow . . . again
As strange as it seems, most all US states have an (*) asterisk written into their sports betting bylaws mandating games featuring local universities are prohibited from wagering. It is a practice that originated in Nevada but more publicized by New Jersey during their long, exhaustive fight to get sports wagering legislated.
Recently, political forces within the state have written up new resolutions in hope of getting these restrictions eliminated. That would open the door for Garden State bettors to wager upon local universities including Rutgers football, Seton Hall, or Princeton basketball or any other Division 1 sporting event taking place within New Jersey.
How and why it began
New Jersey has been known as the pioneering U.S. state leading the fight to overturn PASPA (the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act). Leading the charge dating back to 2011 has been NJ State Senator Raymond Lesniak, who has fought with the same determination of Martin Luther King to defeat PASPA, to provide sports wagering rights if not just to New Jersey residents, to all Americans.
In the earliest days of writing legislation, it was thought that fighting opposition to include NJ universities was not worth the bigger picture of accomplishment. Also, needing the passage of a separate state constitutional amendment left Lesniak skeptical that a minor issue could be approved for placement on a statewide ballot.
The issue also hit close to home as former U.S. Senator Bill Bradley, who was a popular star for the New York Knicks, played at Princeton University and was one of the prevailing architects of PASPA.
Eliminating New Jersey college wagering was a quicker way to obtain approval from legislators. In addition, several of the university's alumni were among those voting for gambling and generally opposing it, therefore this cut-out restriction only helped the cause.
The New Amendment
Last week New Jersey State Senator Paul Sarlo introduced a concurrent resolution that if passed by the state Senate and Assembly, would help initiate the necessary change.
The gambling section of the state constitution would add after the passage, "except that it shall be lawful for the Legislature to authorize by law wagering at casinos or gambling houses in Atlantic City on the results of any college sport or athletic event that is a tournament, playoff, championship, or other postseason competition that takes place in New Jersey, including any such event in which a New Jersey college team participates, and that is sanctioned by a nonprofit collegiate athletic association led by its members."
Note: this new amendment does not include any play for regular season games.
The motivating force seems to be bringing potential future opportunity for NCAA College Basketball Tournament Final Four action to the Prudential Center in Newark or introducing NCAA college football bowl games for the MetLife Stadium at the Meadowlands. Including potential wagering for all New Jersey teams involved would eliminate any possible roadblock.
Officially, the NCAA has chosen the Prudential Center in Newark as a host of the East Regional March Madness semi-finals and finals in 2025. It was last played there in 2010-11.
Ballot questions must be approved by the legislature by the end of June to make it onto the ballot that following Fall. Therefore, this referendum would not be potentially available to voters before November 2021.
The Bigger Picture
Besides the monumental focus upon our Presidential election on November 3, many other U.S. states have issues on their ballots legislating votes involving sports betting. Looking at this type of move in New Jersey could be the start of eliminating many prior restrictions for bettors in other states as well.
One of the many advantages offshore sportsbooks have claimed over several years is offering their customers no restrictions upon wagering on any college teams, plus proposition betting for many sports and entertainment events. The location of a major tournament does not concern offshore betting companies whose customers can stay home and wager online for any event, in any U.S. state.
It will be interesting to see if this *asterisk type of wagering restriction gets overturned in New Jersey next year, setting the path for other states to follow as they create, their new sports betting legislation.
Not hard to imagine, will be a sportsbook itself sitting inside the Prudential Center in Newark, where the Seton Hall Pirates play their games. The FanDuel Sportsbook at the Meadowlands, one of the nation's largest, already sits adjacent to MetLife Stadium across from New York City.
While sports wagering is already proving itself as a major tax supplier into the New Jersey budget, there likely will be no restrictions expanding the menu into the future.
Glenn Greene covers the games from a betting angle every week exclusively at OSGA.com. For weekly betting insights, including previews and picks from Glenn, click here.