NJ Residents Vote Against Expanded College Sports Betting

  • The expanded college basketball betting issue was voted against during the November 2021 elections.
  • The initiative was added to the ballot in an attempt to allow locals to wager on in-state collegiate sporting events.
  • 56% of voters were opposed to the expansion.

TRENTON, N.J. – New Jersey lawmakers saw their college sports betting expansion initiative lose in the November elections.

The initiative was added to the ballot to allow local sportsbooks to offer odds on in-state college games. Voters opposed this and it resulted in the initiative ending in failure.

New Jersey will be hosting the 2025 NCAA Men’s Basketball March Madness Tournament and wanted to change the law to allow bettors to wager. As it stands, those gambling in New Jersey won’t be able to wager on March Madness inside New Jersey in 2025.

New Jersey College Sports Betting Expansion Fails

There were early signs that the college sports betting initiative would fail. Despite NJ being the largest sports betting market in the US, early polls showed 51% of potential voters opposed the measure.

37% of voters from the same poll supported it and 11% were unsure either way. New Jersey needed a 2 to 1 majority in order to see the amendment go through.

The results of the election saw that 56% of total votes rejected expanding college sports betting.

New Jersey lawmakers believed residents would be in favor of allowing in-state college betting due to the passing of the Name, Image, Likeness (NIL) which allows college athletes to get paid through endorsement deals while playing for the NCAA.

The reason in-state college sports betting was not included in the initial 2011 referendum for sports betting was due to concerns of students fixing games. The NIL would limit the likelihood of players partaking in point-shaving and game-fixing.

Despite this, residents were still opposed.

What Happens Next?

Local online gambling operators and retail sportsbooks remain unable to offer NJ sports gamblers local college odds.

New Jersey is still aiming for an executive order or temporary exemption that allows in-state college betting on March Madness alone in 2025.

“New Jersey has become the country’s biggest sports betting market, and the Meadowlands is the largest sports wagering facility in the state,” said Paul Sarlo, New Jersey State Senator (D-Bergen/Passaic). “This is an important opportunity we have to capitalize upon. We need to support and sustain this growing market that is fast becoming a significant part of our regional and state economies. March Madness is a high-profile event on the sports betting calendar and we should be a key player.”

The legislation to remove the prohibition on in-state college sports betting during March Madness was introduced by Sen. Paul Sarlo. This only affects college games in New Jersey that are a part of the NCAA Tournament.