Election Day: Voters Cast Ballots On Sports Betting In NJ And A Casino In VA

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Tomorrow is Election Day in New Jersey and Virginia, and sports betting as well as casino expansion are both on the ballots.

It’s anyone’s guess, however, if the measures will be approved. 

Sports Betting In New Jersey Could Be Expanded

The Garden State, which has had one of the most successful sports betting operations since the Supreme Court legalized it in 2018, could approve an amendment that would open the door to sports bets on in-state colleges and sporting events in the state.  As it stands now, New Jersey law forbids wagers on in-state teams such as Rutgers football, Seton Hall basketball, or Princeton lacrosse.  

If the referendum passes it would be up to lawmakers to make the fix. Sports betting was initially approved after the Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, or PAPSA for short. But the state stopped short of green-lighting in-state athletic events because some feared it could lead to fixing games. To bet on their home state favorites, bettors must travel to Pennsylvania or Delaware.

The issue of in-state sporting events is more tricky. When the state hosted the 2021 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament in March, no bets could be placed on any of the games, even the ones that didn’t include New Jersey teams.

Do Bettors Want College Betting In New Jersey?

Two polls released in the last week show voters aren’t sold on the idea, and in some ways aren’t even really aware of the issue at all.

A Stockton University poll released Thursday indicated 51% of voters were opposed to the measure. This is a 6% increase from the previous poll in September. A sizeable portion of voters remained undecided, 11% percent, while 36% indicated they support the move. 

The poll, conducted in large part by college students, was taken of 522 likely voters, with a margin of error of 4.5%.

A Fairleigh Dickenson University poll released on Friday offers sports betting proponents some hope, but mostly because it appears voters remain undecided, and not because of a groundswell of support for sports betting expansion. 

That poll, with a margin of error of 3.4%, found 39% of registered voters support sports betting expansion while 41% oppose it. 

“There hasn’t been much publicity around this ballot question, and a lot of people are going to miss it, or skip it,” Dan Cassino, a professor of Government and Politics at Fairleigh Dickinson University and the executive director of the poll, said in a statement.

“It’s much closer than it was before, and there are many voters who aren’t going to make a decision about it until they get into the ballot box.”

Virginia Voters Could Approve New Casino In Richmond

When Virginia lawmakers approved sports betting after PAPSA they offered several cities throughout the state the chance to open casinos.  Voters in four smaller cities — Danville, Bristol, Portsmouth, and Norfolk overwhelmingly approved their city’s casino plans last year.  

Now it’s Richmond’s turn.

Backed by media mogul Urban One, the proposed casino along Interstate 95 in the southern part of the city promises a 250-room hotel and a glitzy casino with jobs desperately needed in the economically depressed area.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported supporters have spent more than $2 million to pump up the measure and draw attention to an issue that has been drowned out by a surprisingly close gubernatorial contest.

“If you want money for your schools and roads, this project this is a mechanism to generate extraordinary sums of money for those city services,” Urban One CEO Alfred Liggins told the Times-Dispatch.

Celebrities have come out and endorsed the plan too. 

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime economic opportunity,” Jamie Foxx said in an ad that has been running in the area.

There haven’t been any polls to gauge support.  The city is overwhelmingly Democratic, but Democrats are divided.  Outgoing Gov. Ralph Northam supports the measure, while former Richmond mayor now Sen. Tim Kaine opposes it.

About the Author
Mary M. Shaffrey

Mary M. Shaffrey

Mary Shaffrey is a writer and contributor for Gaming Today with a focus on legislation and political content. Mary is an award-winning journalist who co-authored "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Government." She has spent more than 20 years covering government, both at the state and federal level. As a fan of the Baltimore Orioles and the Providence College Friars she feels cursed. Luckily she is a hockey mom too so her spirits aren't totally shot.

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