TRENTON – It’s increasingly likely that voters will be asked in November to expand sports betting to include collegiate games played in New Jersey or involving schools from the state.

The Senate moved quickly on the idea shortly after it was introduced last fall, but activity then stopped because it never got a hearing in the Assembly. That changed Thursday, when the Assembly Tourism, Gaming and the Arts Committee unanimously endorsed the proposed constitutional amendment.

Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling, D-Monmouth, said the state moved cautiously in how it approached collegiate sports when it when first approved sports betting but that the idea was always that it could be revisited.

“Time has proved that this has been a very beneficial bill. It has gone on without any problems – or none that we know of,” Houghtaling said. “And I think it’s been run very, very well. So, we thought the time was right now to include college sports for sports betting. And I think it will also be a big boon for casinos, the racetracks and those venues that are kind of really struggling now.”

To be clear, betting on college sports is legal in New Jersey, except for games involving New Jersey college teams or played in the state. The latter would preclude wagering on the East Regional of the 2025 NCAA men’s college basketball tournament, which is scheduled to be hosted by Seton Hall University at the Prudential Center in Newark.

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In-state college sporting events are excluded from sports betting due to concerns about maintaining the integrity of the games.

“We’ll monitor it to make sure that the ethical standards are being withheld because the oversight part is important,” said Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, D-Essex. “So, we’ll see. Let’s give the public an opportunity to vote on it.”

“Obviously it will help the industry,” he said. “But as far as the questions of ethics, etc., we’ll have to keep an eye on it.”

Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com.

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