New Jersey Votes in Favor of Bill A5498

12/14/2023
Industry
Online Casino New Jersey

Highlights

  • NJ legislators vote in favor of Bill A5498 tabled in May 2023
  • Higher learning institutions will be required to have responsible gambling programs
  • Several bills around schools and sports betting are still pending

The rising popularity of online gambling since its legalization in New Jersey in 2013 has brought about the surging issue of gambling addiction. On May 25th, 2023, Mila Jasey, the Assembly Deputy Speaker, introduced legislation targeting partnerships between higher learning institutions and sportsbooks. NJ lawmakers advanced the bill on November 20th, 2023.

As the Assembly Higher Education Committee reports, this bill requires colleges and universities participating in sports betting partnerships with a sportsbook operator or intermediary to have a compulsive gambling prevention program. The program must offer educational materials that promote responsible gambling behavior and information on a hotline for students struggling with the issue.

NJ Responsible Gambling Proposal is Just a “Feel Good” Bill 

While passing Bill A5498 seems to align with industry goals, the fine print reveals that it aims at a non-existent target and is meant for happy-go-lucky public relations. This is because not one licensed NJ online casino or sportsbook is partnered with an in-state institution of higher education.

Additionally, the gambling industry has worked hard over the past couple of years to distance itself from the practice of partnering with colleges and universities. This move was prompted by the swift public backlash operators experienced in Colorado, Michigan, and Louisiana. Therefore, NJ lawmakers are firing at a problem that does not exist. It seems like a hasty move by the legislature to combat rising rates of compulsive gambling among young people.

Pending Proposals Involving Schools and Sports Betting 

Bill A5498 is not the only attempt New Jersey lawmakers have made regarding gambling addiction prevention legislation.

On March 20th, 2023, the assembly Higher Education Committee introduced Bill A5226. If passed, it would ban colleges and universities from entering partnerships with sports betting operators or intermediaries completely. This bill defines such a partnership as a contractual agreement between higher education institutions, including a booster club or athletic department, and NJ online casino apps and sportsbooks intending to advertise within the school grounds: in stadiums, digital and broadcast content, or other means. However, this bill has not gained traction since.

Another bill was tabled the same day, targeting high school students. Bill A5308 requires school districts with 9th to 12th-grade students to include the risks of compulsive gambling in their curriculum. It will consist of information on gambling addiction risks and its effects on personal and financial assets. Schools will receive sample learning resources from the Commissioner of Education. This bill has not made any progress either.

New Jersey Still Ahead of the Problem Gambling Curve 

While New Jersey has a complicated relationship between learning institutions and sports betting, it is still ahead of most others in taking responsible gambling measures. NJ is one of only a handful of states with legal sports gambling that prohibits placing stakes on in-state college and university sports events. It also bans wagers on collegiate athletics within its borders. Garden State voters had the chance to roll back on this provision in 2021, but they turned it down.

Gambling regulators in New Jersey are also arguably the most proactive in the fight against the potential addiction that comes with indulgence. Some of the measures that stand out include the following:

  • New Jersey is the only state that demands annual reports about the effects of legal sports betting and other online gambling forms. These reports are conducted in partnership with Rutgers University Center for Gambling Studies.
  • NJ is the only legal gambling state that requires online casinos and sportsbook operators to monitor player activity to identify gambling addiction warning signs.
  • Once a gambler activates self-exclusion in an NJDGE-licensed casino, they are restricted from accessing all other legal online casinos in the state until the exclusion period elapses.
  • It is the only jurisdiction with a dedicated, responsible gambling coordinator within its regulatory framework.  

These gambling regulation measures are necessary, considering New Jersey has a gambling addiction rate that is nearly 3x the national average.

Having started in 2005 as an online writer, Sadonna has focused on the online gambling industry, with a keen knowledge of various subjects. Sadonna has followed the growing US-based gambling industry for decades, covering all the legal changes in the nation as well as information on land-based and online casinos. She enjoys updating fellow gamblers on new games, casino bonuses, and additional information for premium gaming services. In her spare time, Sadonna loves spending time with her family and singing on Smule. Sadonna hopes to continue working in the online gambling industry and building quality articles for players to learn more about the US market.