Election Day 2021 proved to be a mixed bag for expanding gambling opportunities, with proponents winning two of the four major ballot initiatives across the country.
A referendum to allow wagering on in-state college teams in New Jersey was rejected by voters, as was a new casino in Virginia, but retail betting establishments in Iowa and New Hampshire were approved.
New Jersey Rejects Sports Betting Expansion
Rutgers football and Seton Hall basketball fans have to travel to Pennsylvania or Delaware to place a bet on their hometown favorites.
Question 1 would have paved the way for that to change. With more than 97% of the precincts reporting, voters rejected allowing bets on sports events involving in-state collegiate teams, 57% to 33%.
Two polls had been released last week indicating support for the measure was weak, but some voters remained undecided.
Virginia Voters Oppose Casino In Richmond
Richmond became the first city in the state to reject a new casino after the state approved expanding gambling opportunities in 2019.
With all but one of the 77 precincts reporting, voters rejected a new casino 51% to 49%. The casino would have been built south of the city off of Interstate 95 and pledged to bring millions of dollars and jobs to an economically depressed area.
“From the beginning, we said the people would decide. They have spoken, and we must respect their decision,” Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said in a statement reported by the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Last year four other cities in the state — Bristol, Norfolk, Danville, and Portsmouth — all approved similar measures.
Also on Tuesday’s ballots, two smaller jurisdictions in the state voted on expanding pari-mutuel betting. Amherst County rejected the idea, while Emporia City approved it.
Casinos Approved In New Hampshire and Iowa
The move clears the way for the city to open a brick-and-mortar facility. A similar measure was voted down by city residents in 2019.
Nashua becomes the third city in the state to approve a retail location, joining Seabrook and Manchester.
Likewise, voters in Linn County, Iowa — home to Cedar Rapids — approved a measure to bring a retail casino to the area. The process was eight years in the making, as Iowa law requires two votes on expanding gambling.