Betting on Rutgers and other Garden State schools in New Jersey took another step forward this week when a constitutional amendment passed in committee.
The proposed adjustment, sponsored by state Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen/Passaic), now goes before the full legislature with the hope that it could be placed on the ballot in the fall of 2021.
The New Jersey constitution prohibits betting on the state’s college teams and, more importantly, on college events held in New Jersey. It’s been mostly a nuisance since sports betting was legalized outside of Nevada in 2018. It became problematic when the NCAA recently announced the men’s basketball East Regional finals were going to be held in Newark in 2025.
Sarlo’s office did not immediately return a message for comment, but the senator did say in a release that, “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.”
NJOnlineGambling.com reported that the state legislature will take up the measure within a few weeks.
The pandemic wiped out most of March Madness in 2020. But in 2019 there was plenty of confusion (and disappointment) at Jersey sports books when Seton Hall went 3-0 against the spread in the Big East tournament.
Atlantic City, which hosted the start of the MAAC tournament in March, also had to explain to tourists why they were prohibited from offering action even though the games were being held right down the boardwalk.
Sarlo’s original proposal was to allow for betting only on games within the state. He increased the scope of the measure, according to NJOnlineGambling, when senate president Steve Sweeney told him the NCAA would not offer opposition.