Don’t bet on it

| 11 Nov 2021 | 12:29

    Gamblers in New Jersey will still won’t be able to bet on - or against - Rutgers, Seton Hall, Princeton and other college sports teams as a result of voters rejecting a ballot measure that would have allowed such bets.

    Voters rejected a measure that would have allowed betting on New Jersey college teams or teams from other states whose games are played in New Jersey in results that were tallied last week.

    They approved a separate ballot question that will allow organizations that are permitted to hold raffles to keep the money to support themselves.

    Backers of the sports betting question had intended to help New Jersey maintain its national leadership of the legal sports betting market in the U.S. The state won a U.S. Supreme Court case in 2018 clearing the way for all 50 states to offer sports betting, and half the country currently does.

    Proponents said New Jersey was losing out on bets involving popular New Jersey college teams that sports books in other states are allowed to take. The state is also hosting several college tournaments soon involving teams from across the country that are expected to draw heavy interest from bettors.

    Polling over the summer and early fall had shown the measure heading for defeat.

    ``One potential concern with lifting the ban may have been that college athletes would feel more pressure and/or face more scrutiny on social media because of the added attention and money involved,’’ said Jane Bokunewicz, director of the Lloyd Levenson Institute at Stockton University, which studies the gambling industry. ``This is something that professional athletes have faced, with some questioning whether sports betting was a contributing factor.’’

    In September, New Jersey became the first U.S. state to take in more than $1 billion worth of sports bets in a single month.

    But due to the way the state’s sports betting law was written, none of those bets involved New Jersey college teams. They were specifically excluded by lawmakers who voiced concern about the perception of the integrity of the games.

    Since then, however, New Jersey’s strictly regulated sports betting industry has operated without major incident, and its rules and procedures are considered a model that several other states have adopted.

    - The Associated Press