New Jersey Sports Betting Amendment Faces Long Odds Ahead of Election Day

Posted on: November 1, 2021, 10:18h. 

Last updated on: November 1, 2021, 02:45h.

New Jersey voters will be asked tomorrow if they wish to amend the state’s laws on sports betting to allow odds on athletic events involving Garden State colleges and universities. Recent polling suggests that the odds are long that the gaming ballot referendum will pass.

New Jersey sports betting question referendum
A gambler places a sports bet at Bally’s in Atlantic City in this file photograph from September 2019. Tomorrow, New Jersey voters will make their voices heard as to whether they want to include odds on games involving state colleges. (Image: AP)

Public Question 1 is referred to as the “Sports Betting on State College Athletics Amendment.” The referendum seeks to allow state lawmakers to pass legislation that would permit oddsmakers to offer lines on New Jersey college sports, as well as collegiate events taking place in the state regardless of whether a state-based school is participating.

Under New Jersey’s present law on sports betting, licensed oddsmakers can only offer lines on college sports that are not taking place inside the state, nor involving state-based schools.

New Jerseyans tomorrow will also decide whether Gov. Phil Murphy (D) receives a second term. He’s nearly a sure thing, as the latest odds on PredictIt give him a 94 percent chance.

Polling Suggests Rejection

Stockton University and Fairleigh Dickinson University are both of the opinions that Question 1 will fail.

Stockton revealed on October 28 that its latest polling shows a slim majority (51 percent) of voters opposing the constitutional amendment. Only 37 percent said they plan to answer “yes” to Public Question 1.

Stockton’s October poll concluded that Question 1 opposition is only increasing. The university reported in September that 45 percent of likely voters would answer “no” to allowing state lawmakers to amend New Jersey’s sports gambling regulations.

Fairleigh Dickinson, however, relays a different story. In July, a poll conducted by the university found just 25 percent of likely voters supporting Question 1. But last week, that polling number increased to 39 percent.

Despite the uptick of support in potentially allowing oddsmakers to offer bets on New Jersey college sports, Fairleigh Dickinson predicts Question 1 to fail. The October poll relayed that 41 percent of likely voters answered that college betting involving state schools should continue to be banned. Eighteen percent said they weren’t sure or planned not to weigh in on the issue.

“There hasn’t been much publicity around this ballot question, and a lot of people are going to miss it or skip it,” explained Dan Cassino, a professor of Government and Politics at Fairleigh Dickinson University and the Executive Director of the poll.

Potential For Election Day Surprise

The widespread expansion of legal sports betting across the US can be credited largely to New Jersey, which led to the effort to repeal the federal ban on such gambling. The Supreme Court in May of 2018 ultimately sided with the state in its legal contention that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act violated the US Constitution.

The majority of the 30 states, plus DC, that have passed sports betting laws allow oddsmakers to take action on college events involving state schools.

There hasn’t been any coordinated opposition in New Jersey to Question 1, nor has the referendum received much media attention. That has led to Cassino pondering whether adequate support might be realized on November 2.

“It’s much closer than it was before, and there are many voters who aren’t going to make a decision about it until they get into the ballot box,” Cassino concluded.