New Jersey Bill Puts Responsible Gambling Stipulation on Sportsbooks’ College Partnerships

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Public colleges and universities in New Jersey would have to implement a gambling addiction prevention program if they want to partner with a sportsbook under a bill now before state lawmakers.

Sponsored by New Jersey Assembly Deputy Speaker Mila Jasey (D-Maplewood), A5498 would require any New Jersey public college or university that partners with a sportsbook to provide students with responsible gambling materials and information on a problem gambling hotline. The bill is the latest attempt by state lawmakers to implement responsible gaming measures in a state which has generated over $37 billion in sports betting handle since launching retail and online sports betting in 2018.

Jasey’s bill follows the American Gaming Association’s (AGA) latest update to its Responsible Marketing Code, which bans college partnerships promoting, marketing, or advertising sports wagering to college-age audiences and the words “risk free” in advertising, among other changes. However, the updated code makes exceptions for “college partnerships that promote, market or advertise sports wagering activity … to alumni networks or content focused on responsible gaming initiative or problem gambling awareness.”

A5498 doesn’t make that distinction.

Any sports betting partnership or agreement between a sportsbook operator and a college or university, “including an athletic department or booster club”, that provides access “to advertise in the institution’s stadiums and other facilities, in digital and broadcast sports content, and through other means” falls under the legislation.

Sports Betting Growing Among College-Age Youth

New Jersey colleges and universities don’t currently have partnerships with sports betting operators (in other states, PointsBet‘s deals with the University of Colorado and the University of Maryland ended prematurely, and Michigan State is reportedly calling off its deal with Caesars Sportsbook; Caesars also has a partnership with LSU). Jasey’s bill appears to be a proactive strike — as well as a statement on the escalation of sports betting advertising on college campuses.

New Jersey legislators are zeroing in on sportsbooks' partnerships with colleges and universities.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights fans (AP Photo/Steve Luciano)

Jasey filed the bill on May 25, one day after the NCAA released results of an April survey that revealed 58 percent of 18 to 22-year-olds have engaged in sports betting, despite many being too young to gamble legally.

According to the results of that survey, 58 percent of on-campus students said “they are more likely to bet” after seeing sports betting advertisements, with 63 percent reporting they have seen betting ads. “This is a higher rate than that found in the general population or those that commute/virtually attend college,” the survey reported.

In New Jersey – where the legal sports betting age is 21 – sports betting is growing faster among adults ages 21 to 24 than any other group, according to Rutgers University Center for Gambling Studies.

Although the NCAA survey didn’t poll how many ads were seen during an average game, the director of the Center for Gambling Studies at Rutgers reported in February op-ed that about 19% of New Jersey sports bettors ages 21-24 “spent half of their money [that they bet] during games, when emotions and impulsive spending are highest.”

Legislation Only Part of Effort to Address NJ Problem Gambling

Other bills intended to curb sports betting by young adults and youth in New Jersey have also been filed in the current legislative session. A5226 would completely ban partnerships between sportsbooks and public colleges and universities. Another bill, A5308, would require New Jersey school districts to instruct students on the risks of compulsive gambling.

Both of those bills and A5498 are currently waiting for hearing in committee, although no hearings have been scheduled yet. Lawmakers have until Dec. 31 (the end of the current legislative session) to act.

The legislation is the latest effort to address problem gambling in the state.

So far, New Jersey is the only state to require an annual evaluation of how online gambling and sports betting relate to problem gambling, according to Rutgers’ Center for Gambling Studies, which conducts the evaluations. It also just launched a state-led Responsible Gaming Initiative this year that requires online gambling operators to analyze player data for indicators of at-risk gambling behavior.

Out of 42 states with publicly-funded problem gambling services in 2021, New Jersey ranked 19th with per capita public funding of 34 cents, according to a 2021 survey.

About the Author
Rebecca Hanchett

Rebecca Hanchett

Legislative Writer
Based in Kentucky's Bluegrass region, Rebecca Hanchett is a political writer who covers legislative developments at Gaming Today. She worked as a public affairs specialist for 23 years at the Kentucky State Capitol. A University of Kentucky grad, Hanchett has been known to watch UK. basketball from time to time.

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