New Jersey Lawmakers Look to Combat Sports Betting Advertisements

The Garden State was one of the first states to legalize sports betting in 2018 and has developed one of the most mature and robust sports betting markets in the country.

Last Updated: Mar 21, 2023 2:24 PM ET Read Time: 4 min
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New Jersey legislators displeased with the influx of legal sports betting advertisements in the Garden State are taking action to fight what they see as the cause of a growing addiction problem among residents.

As a debate increases between lawmakers about how much online sports betting sites and online casinos can market in New Jersey, Bill A240 is working its way through the NJ General Assembly to create the Gambling Treatment Diversion Court Pilot Program.

Introduced by Assemblyman Ralph Caputo (D-Essex) Dan Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex), and Anthony Verrelli (D-Hunterdon, Mercer), the bill passed through the Appropriations Committee by a vote of 7-0 on Monday. The bill would create three regional gambling courts to work with health professionals to determine if criminals should be placed in the diversion program.

The program is designed to have the courts assign treatment for people who commit crimes directly related to having a gambling addiction. The bill that caters to casino gaming and sports betting in New Jersey is modeled after a similar program offered in Nevada.

Pushback to the bill comes directly from the courts, which argued that offenders should be sent to existin diversionary programs instead of creating a new program because of overwhelming judicial vacancies.

More bills are in the works

Caputo and Benson are also joining Assemblywoman Mila Jasey (Essex and Morris) in co-sponsoring Bill A5308, which requires school districts to educate youth on the risks of compulsive gambling as part of the New Jersey Student Learning Standards in Comprehensive Health and Physical Education. 

A third bill (A5226) would prohibit sports betting operators from partnering with New Jersey public colleges and universities. Athletic departments nor booster clubs of the institution would be allowed to have sports betting advertisements in stadiums and other venues or enable sportsbooks to advertise in digital or broadcast sports content. That bill has recently moved to the Higher Education Committee.

"We all voted for these things, but at some point, there's some negative impact of some of the things that we did do," Caputo said to the New Jersey Monitor. "We're trying to pull it back a little bit."

Competitive market

New Jersey was one of the first states to legalize sports betting in 2018 and has developed one of the most mature and robust sports betting markets in the country. Nearly 20 sportsbooks currently operate in the Garden State, including FanDuel, DraftKings, and BetMGM.

In February, New Jersey saw a streak of four consecutive months of billion-dollar sports betting handles come to an end. Still, the Garden State took in $847.7 million in sports wagers and made a taxable revenue of nearly $55 million. The state also hauled in more than $7 million in taxes.

However, lawmakers fear that gambling addictions have risen too quickly, and they’re blaming sportsbooks for their marketing campaigns.

“It’s a vicious fight for market share,” Caputo said. “The public is suffering for it. This advertising is way over the top.”

In neighboring New York, there’s another fight brewing against sportsbook advertisements. Rep. Paul Tonko has introduced the Betting on Our Future Act to keep the gambling industry from marketing to “children, people in recovery, and other vulnerable populations.”

Tonko also took to Twitter on Monday to react to the 2018 overturning of PAPSA.

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