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New Jersey senator proposes bill to allow in-state betting on college sports ban

Sen. Paul Sarlo wants to permit wagering on college tournament games played in Jersey. Critics want the in-state ban erased completely, which would allow for wagering on Rutgers football.

The men's NCAA basketball tournament is returning to New Jersey in 2025. As things stand, Jersey sportsbooks would not be allowed to offer wagering on it because of a provision in the state constitution. A voter referendum is needed to make a change.
The men's NCAA basketball tournament is returning to New Jersey in 2025. As things stand, Jersey sportsbooks would not be allowed to offer wagering on it because of a provision in the state constitution. A voter referendum is needed to make a change.Read more

A state senator is attempting to close a loophole in New Jersey’s sports betting regulations that has been more of a nuisance than a disaster.

Compared to most states, sports betting in Jersey is pretty efficient. There is some competition in the mobile market, and the brick-and-mortar places upstate and in Atlantic City are decent. They have a problem with seemingly arbitrary limits and general tolerance for professional bettors, and they don’t allow wagering on in-state colleges or college competitions. So it’s not perfect.

There’s no betting on Rutgers, Seton Hall or other Jersey schools. No betting on college games played at the Meadowlands, Boardwalk Hall, or other Jersey facilities. Even hanging a line on Princeton-Penn in a Jersey sportsbook or app will be met with a fine by the Division of Gaming Enforcement.

State Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen/Passaic) is looking to change that with a proposal he made Monday to allow betting on NCAA-sanctioned tournaments following the announcement that the 2025 men’s NCAA basketball East Regionals will be held in Newark, N.J. But it will be an uphill climb with a piano on his back.

“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.”

So why the ban?

Because New Jersey’s sports betting laws are under the state constitution, a voter referendum is needed to make the changes Sarlo seeks. It’s a nice effort, but sports betting observers say it doesn’t go nearly far enough. There would still be a prohibition on betting on regular-season games. Rutgers football, for instance.

“If you’re going to go through the trouble of passing a resolution and having an issue of this magnitude to amend the state constitution, you should go all the way and completely remove the ban on in-state collegiate betting,” said Daniel Wallach, an expert in sports betting law.

“More importantly, from a public policy perspective, the state is basically telling its citizens to go and bet these games in the illegal market or in other states. This has stood, in the last three years, an exception to their record of perfection in the rollout of sports betting. It’s the only thing that prevents that state from having an A-plus for how they’ve handled sports betting.”

» READ MORE: Want to bet on Penn State-Rutgers? March Madness loopholes in New Jersey sports betting could make it difficult.

Sarlo’s office did not immediately return requests for comment Wednesday, but he at least cast the first stone. There is no restriction in Pennsylvania against collegiate betting.

New Jersey was at the forefront of the fight to end Nevada’s monopoly on traditional sports betting, and the in-state collegiate provision was included in their 2011 bill to make sports betting more appealing to reluctant politicians and residents. It was signed into state law the following year. The federal law overturning Nevada’s dominance toppled in 2018.

Wallach and others will point out that many collegiate sports betting scandals have been uncovered by regulated sportsbooks who have noticed unusual patterns in wagering. One provision some states have adapted to mitigate shady behavior is to restrict individual player and team props on collegiate events.

“I think New Jersey has always had a case of post-purchase dissonance over this in-state collegiate betting ban,” said Wallach, a co-founder of the University of New Hampshire’s school of law sports wagering & integrity program. “It seems to me the measure would have passed, at least on the public level, with or without an in-state betting ban.”

This and that

  1. The top four players on the oddsboard among Eagles to score the game’s first touchdown Thursday are Boston Scott (6-1), Travis Fulgham (10-1), DeSean Jackson (12-1), and Corey Clement (12-1). Scott, Jackson, and Clement haven’t scored a touchdown all year. That’s how banged up the Eagles are.

  2. The over/under on Scott’s rushing yards is 49.5. The line on Carson Wentz’s passing yards is 249.5.

  3. The Eagles are 5-0 on Thursday nights under Doug Pederson (since 2016) both outright and ATS. The Giants are 0-4 straight up and against the number in that same span.

  4. The only people in Dallas feeling worse than Cowboys' fans are Cowboys' bettors. Dallas is 0-6 against the spread. They and the Jets are the only teams without a win ATS.

  5. The other three teams in the NFC Least against the spread: New York (3-3), Washington (2-3-1), Eagles (2-4).

  6. Interesting wager at the South Point in Vegas last weekend by someone who put $60,000 to win $10,000 on a money-line bet on Temple to beat South Florida. The Owls trailed most of the day, and could only breathe after they stopped a two-point conversion with 63 seconds left to seal a 39-37 win. Great line from a Twitter thread: “Anyone putting 60k on a Temple game isn’t sweating money.”

  7. The Owls were laying 14.5 last week and are getting 13.5 Saturday at Memphis. Temple is about +400 on the money line, so if our guy wants to put another 60 large on Temple again, his payout would be $240,000 if they win.

  8. Penn State is laying 6.5 at Indiana in Saturday’s season opener for both schools.

» READ MORE: NFL Week 6 observations and Week 7 opening lines

And finally

Westgate in Las Vegas opened its Week 8 line of Jets-Chiefs at Chiefs -21. It was at 21.5 as of Wednesday afternoon, which would make it the seventh-highest line since 1978. Thought the number would be even higher if the host Chiefs could put 76,000 screaming fans into Arrowhead Stadium.

“In that line range,” said Westgate sportsbook manager Jeff Sherman, “it wouldn’t change if the stadium was at capacity.”