Betting on Local College Sports is a Smart Bet for New Jersey | Opinion

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By Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey

A recent Fairleigh Dickinson University poll predicted a grim – but not certain – conclusion for the future of residents who can legally bet on local college sports in New Jersey, which will be a public issue in the Nov. 2 poll. Almost half of those polled were opposed to the measure, with the remaining half evenly distributed among supporters or undecided.

We agree with FDU’s analysis that part of the opposition may be linked to the status quo: when people have less information about a ballot, they tend to support the status quo rather than ‘a change. We believe that as voters become more informed of the benefits, they will support the ballot issue to amend the state constitution to allow sports betting at current or former casinos and racetracks on all college sporting competitions. .

So, let’s break it down. The reason why betting on state college sporting events was not part of the original 2018 legislation allowing sports betting at casinos and racetracks was due to concerns about match-fixing: students- athletes were not paid and were considered more susceptible to bribes. . However, those concerns were alleviated by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling last month that paves the way for the payment of college athlete salaries, and the NCAA’s decision to waive rules prohibiting student-athletes from playing. ” get paid for mentions and advertisements.

In practical terms, it is also more difficult to repair a sporting event when the state is monitoring casinos and racetracks. Illegal bookmakers certainly don’t offer this level of disclosure and accountability. Putting more college sports betting in the public eye makes it harder to bribe athletes, not easier. Illegal betting operations also do not pay taxes.

Sports betting generates an 8.5% tax on money wagered in a casino or racetrack and a 13% tax on online betting. NJ’s sports betting operations also pay a 1.25% tax that goes to cities and counties. This money is used for economic development, including improving roads, transportation and infrastructure, tourism, public safety, and maintenance of properties located on or near the racetrack. New Jersey ended 2020 as the largest sports betting market in America with over $ 6 billion in bets placed. That translated to nearly $ 51 million in state tax revenue last year after collecting nearly $ 39 million in 2019.

There is no doubt that allowing betting on New Jersey college sports teams would significantly increase that income. The March Madness likely accounted for a significant portion of New Jersey’s $ 434 million basketball bet on sports betting in March. (The NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement does not separate college basketball and NBA in its reporting). Imagine if the bettors here could have bet on Rutgers and Seton Hall in the tournament.

To maintain our state’s competitive advantage as a gaming destination, New Jersey must join the seven other states that legalized betting on the state’s college teams during the March NCAA basketball tournament. last. If we don’t, we risk losing revenue and business to other states, as we did when we fell behind Delaware and New York in allowing racetracks to offer rides. games of chance.

We have seen the benefits of legal sports betting firsthand in our Legislative District 11, where it has resulted in a resurgence of two historic but struggling racetracks, Monmouth Park and Freehold Raceway. When they are doing well, the restaurants in and around the racetracks, as well as the horse farms, saddlery and supply stores in western Monmouth County.

Legal sports betting is also helping to boost the business of Atlantic City casinos. Their success is creating jobs across Atlantic County, where one in three people was unemployed at the height of the pandemic. New Jersey residents are smart voters. We are confident that they will see that the benefits of betting on the state’s college teams outweigh the concerns of those who oppose them.

MP Eric Houghtaling and State Senator Joann Downey represent the 11th Legislative District of New Jersey, which includes parts of Monmouth County.

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