Bill Regulating NJ Sports Betting Surfaces Ahead Of Supreme Court Ruling

New Jersey lawmakers continue to be optimistic of a positive ruling from the US Supreme Court in Murphy vs. NCAA. The NJ sports betting case could lift the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) and allow states to legalize sports betting.

The latest example came in the General Assembly just last week. A bill surfaced to establish the framework for licensing and operating sports betting at Atlantic City casinos and racetracks.

Outline of the NJ sports betting bill

The bill, sponsored by Assemblywoman Joann Downey and Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling, covers a little bit of everything.

First off, betting on NJ college or athletic events would be prohibited under the bill, though collegiate tournaments such as the NCAA men’s basketball tournament would be excluded.

Secondly, a physical sportsbook would be required before any online sportsbook is considered. The bill details that no casino or racetrack:

“… shall be permitted to operate or accept wagers via an online sports pool unless a sports wagering lounge is established and has commenced operation in its facility; provided, however, that a sports wagering permitholder may petition the division to commence operation of an online sports pool during the pendency of construction of a sports wagering lounge in its facility.”

Also under the bill, revenue earned via sports wagering would be subject to an 8 percent tax, and a 12.5 percent tax would be levied for online sports betting.

Bill includes ‘integrity fee’

But probably the biggest detail from the draft bill is the inclusion of an “integrity fee.”

The fee would either be $7.5 million or 2.5 percent of the wagering revenue, whichever is lower. These fees would then fund any investigations into the integrity of sporting events on which wagers were placed.

The bill further states:

“[a] sports governing body whose sports events are wagered upon in New Jersey casinos or racetracks may seek reimbursement for expenses incurred relative to ensuring the integrity of its sports events with respect to sports wagering operations in New Jersey by submitting a claim for such compensation to the Attorney General.”

Essentially, the state would get first dibs on the fund before sports leagues can get any money. Regulators would also then cooperate with the leagues’ investigations.

The professional leagues and the NCAA, as plaintiffs in the US Supreme Court sports betting case in question, have been adamantly against New Jersey offering sports betting. But recently, the NBA and the MLB have been lobbying lawmakers in New Jersey, as well as in other states, to establish regulations that include some form of integrity fee or reimbursement for wagers.

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Lawmakers preparing for a positive ruling

Of course, no decision on sports betting (good or bad) has been made yet. In fact, SCOTUS has until the end of June to decide the NJ sports betting case. The next possible ruling would be May 14.

But even so, several states have already laid out legislation in an attempt to hit the ground running should a positive ruling be handed down. New Jersey is simply following suit and getting its ducks in order, too.

“If the Supreme Court rules in favor of allowing sports betting,” said Downey, “we will be prepared here in New Jersey where our casinos and racetracks play an integral role in our economy.”

Casinos and racetracks are doing the same. In Atlantic City, Borgata has reportedly developed plans to build a $7 million sportsbook should PASPA be struck down. Incoming Ocean Resort Casino intends to invest in a sports betting lounge — all in preparation for the high court to rule in New Jersey’s favor.

“Considering the popularity of professional and collegiate sports, as well as the myriad of other gambling opportunities offered throughout the state,” said Houghtaling, “allowing sports betting in our Atlantic City casinos and racetracks is a natural next step for New Jersey.”

About the Author

Grant Lucas

Grant Lucas is a longtime sportswriter who has covered the high school, collegiate, and professional levels. A graduate of Linfield College in McMinnville, Grant has covered games and written features and columns surrounding prep sports, Linfield, and Oregon State athletics and the Portland Trail Blazers throughout his career.