This past weekend was a huge college sports weekend in the Garden State. But, in the world of New Jersey betting, not one bettor could make a wager.
Billed as “America’s Game,” a crowd of more than 82,000 attended underdog Navy’s 17-13 upset victory over Army at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford Saturday afternoon.
The rest of the country with legalized sports betting could have taken Navy (+7), but not one single resident could bet on the game within New Jersey boundaries.
Voters Said No to In-State College N.J. Sports Betting
That is a direct result of what New Jersey voters turned thumbs down to in November.
On Election Day, Garden State residents voted no to allow in-state college sports betting on teams or events held in the state.
“Although America's game (Army vs. Navy) was not approved in New Jersey, we still saw a decent amount of handle come in globally, considering it was also the lone NCAA Division I college football game of the day,” said Michael Korn, trading content analyst for PointsBet USA.
“To put things into perspective, the Army-Navy game was fourth in terms of overall handle for all football games on the weekend. The only games that did a higher handle were all NFL games: Bears at Packers (Sunday night), Steelers at Vikings (Thursday night) and Bills at Buccaneers. Navy's upset over Army was a great result for the book. One other note: The Army-Navy game has gone under the total in the last 16 matchups between the two, with the total closing at 36 on Saturday.”
Meanwhile, information provided by Drew O’Dell, a public relations person who specializes in sportsbook data for BetMGM, said 52% bet their over of 35.5. Army had 60% of the tickets and 46% of the handle on the 7-point spread,
Opportunity Lost on Rutgers, Seton Hall
Fast forward to Sunday night, when two of the state’s prominent college basketball teams and hated rivals, Rutgers and Seton Hall, clashed at the Prudential Center in Newark, Seton Hall’s homecourt.
Both teams were coming off top 20 home victories earlier in the week - Seton Hall over Texas and Rutgers over then No. 1-ranked Purdue. It also was the first meeting between Rutgers and Seton Hall since the Scarlet Knights won by 20 points at the Rutgers Athletic Center in Piscataway two years ago.
“Seton Hall was 8.5-point favorites versus Rutgers on Sunday night and ended up covering after winning the game by 14 points,” Korn said. “The book ended up losing on that game, with most of the handle coming in on the Pirates.”
BetMGM’s O’Dell pointed out the line started at Seton Hall by 10.5 but moved down to 8.5. Seton Hall had 64% of the tickets and 78% of the handle at BetMGM.
These two highly viewed contests also are missed opportunities of what could be in the state. More than 1 million people voted no to the ballot question and just over 800,000 voted yes on it.
Voters weighed in on this cut-and-dry referendum question:
Do you approve amending the Constitution to permit wagering through casinos and current or former horse racetracks on all college sport or athletic events that are held in the State?
Mind you, college sports betting is legal for New Jersey customers to wager on for games played outside the state and schools not in New Jersey.
Lack of Publicity Cited
Some supporters of the bill cited a lack of publicity efforts to educate the public on the referendum.
In mid-June, the state Assembly passed SCR133 – with Assembly Concurrent Resolution 200 – to allow sports betting on in-state college teams and in-state college tournaments and events by a vote of 70-4.
New Jersey has had legal sports betting since 2018 and set a national single-month record for sports betting handle in October at more than $1.3 billion.
The state has three NCAA Division I football programs: Monmouth, Princeton and Rutgers. Those three universities are also home to DI men’s and women’s basketball programs, along with five others: Seton Hall, Saint Peter’s, Rider, Fairleigh Dickinson and the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT).
With no change in legislation, bettors will be affected when the NCAA men’s basketball tournament is held at the Prudential Center in March 2025. Seton Hall will be the host school.
The event will mark the first East Regional at the Prudential Center since 2011, when No. 4 Kentucky defeated No. 2 North Carolina in the Region Final.
No further progress has been announced regarding if the bill will be reintroduced within the state legislature in the near future.