New Jersey to Vote on Allowing Sports Betting on NCAA-Sanctioned Tournaments

A New Jersey lawmaker recently proposed a bill that will see gamblers in the state be able to place sports bets on college, as well as university sporting events in the Garden State. State Senator Paul Sarlo has been at the forefront of the proposed reform.

If the proposal to ban wagering on in-state colleges and universities, as well as any other college sports that are held within state lines, goes through, punters in the Garden State should look forward to wagering on the 2025 men’s NCAA basketball East Regionals, which will be held in the state when the time comes.

Since the Garden State’s sports betting laws are under the state constitution, a voter referendum is required for any changes such as the ones been sought by State Sen. Paul Sarlo to be made. Currently, the state prohibits any betting on schools in the Garden State. That means that punters cannot bet on college games held at the Meadowlands, Boardwalk Hall, or any other Jersey facilities for that matter.

Even if this bill is successfully passed into law, bettors would still be verboten from wagering on regular-season games. Any operators that attempt to taunt the rules in a New Jersey-based sportsbook or app are immediately fined by the Division of Gaming Enforcement. But State Sen. Paul Sarlo is looking to change all that.

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He had this to say about this uphill battle that he and the proponents of the bill are about to embark on, “This is an important opportunity we have to capitalize upon,” Sarlo said in a recent statement that appeared in the Asbury Park Press. “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 NCAA vs New Jersey

The NCAA and New Jersey have always been at loggerheads. As you may already know, New Jersey heralded the fight for the legalization of the sports betting industry in the country, a move that the NCAA was quite displeased with. Right after the Supreme Court legalized sports betting the NCAA followed by lifting its ban on hosting championships in states that enjoy legal sports betting.

Even today, as legal sports betting in New Jersey, continues to thrive and flourish, the NCAA continues to drag its feet, especially as it regards the compensation of student-athletes. Although states with legal sports betting are no longer banned from hosting NCAA championship, the ban on sports gambling sponsors for NCAA championships and FBS bowls is still in place.

Just recently, however, a New Jersey Bill titled the New Jersey Fair Play Act—or S-971/A-2106, allowing college athletes to hire attorneys or agents was signed into law. The Bill, which was heralded by Senators Joe Lagana, D-Bergen, Sandra Cunningham, D-Hudson, and Loretta Weinberg, D-Bergen was fast-tracked through Senate and Assembly committees.

Thanks to this Bill that was signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy, student-athletes in New Jersey can now earn compensation whenever their name, image, or likeness is utilized. This bill also paves the way for student-athletes to obtain professional representation without impacting their scholarship eligibility.

There are exceptions though. For good reason, student-athletes’ images or likeness are prohibited from being used in any business or branding that’s linked to alcohol, gambling of any kind, tobacco or e-smoking, controlled drug substances, firearms, and adult entertainment. For way too long, collegiate athletes have been banned from gaining compensation from endorsements while organizations and corporations such as NCAA continue to profit off their hard work and sweat as we’ve previously covered here.

The NCAA and their respective universities collect millions of dollars in revenue while student-athletes are only given a small stipend and ‘free education’ for their troubles. This comes with no guarantee of going pro or even completing their education, which has not only been unfair to the students but also exploitative.

This new law will take effect immediately and will be enforced in the 5th academic year after it’s been enacted. This will make New Jersey the second state after California to clear the legislative path for collegiate student-athletes to earn a living from their craft. This decision already mirrors efforts that were being made by the NCAA to modernize its rules in what was previously unexplored territory.

 

States stand divided on permitting sports betting on college athletes

Out of the 21 states that have legalized sports betting in some form, half gave some type of ban on wagering on collegiate athletes. For instance, in Virginia, which is next in line to legalize sports betting, wagering on Virginia state teams and college prop bets will be outlawed. Washington also has a ban on wagering on local college teams. Colorado, on the other hand, is set to finalize its rules and regulations but will allow punters to bet on state college sports teams.

States that refuse to allow sports betting on NCAA sanctioned tournaments are losing out big time. For instance, just because New Jersey currently bans sports betting on collegiate tournaments doesn’t mean that punters from Jersey aren’t doing it.

Sports bettors can easily drive to the nearest city that allows betting on college sports and place a bet. At the end of the day, betting on college sports in New Jersey will still go on and the non-in-this-state attitude will do very little to stop punters.

 

Final Thoughts

Legalizing and regulating sports betting on NCAA sanctioned tournaments will be a positive step towards establishing the integrity of individual collegiate sports. When it comes to professional sports, wagering seems to be accepted since it is a great way to protect the integrity of the industry.

This should extend to college sports as well since authorities would be better placed to observe what types of wagers are being placed on the sports as well as which abnormalities should be detected.

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