A bill in New Jersey would require public universities engaged in sports wagering partnerships to establish a gambling education program. A5498 seeks to promote responsible gambling behavior and prevent student gambling addiction. If the bill sponsored by state Assemblywoman Mila M. Jasey, D-Maplewood, becomes law, it will take effect immediately.
Under the provisions of A5498, if a public university enters into a partnership or contractual agreement with a sports wagering operator or intermediary, it must create a program to prevent gambling addiction. This program should provide students with educational materials that promote responsible gambling practices. The schools must also inform people seeking help with gambling problems about a hotline. Schools should display the hotline number on their website and in various locations on campus, such as sports facilities, dormitories, libraries, and student centers.
The bill defines a “sports wagering partnership” as a collaboration between a sports wagering operator or intermediary and an institution of higher education, including the institution’s athletic department or booster club. This partnership allows the sports betting company to advertise in the school’s stadiums and facilities, in digital and broadcast sports content, and through other means.
Today, New Jersey Sen. Joseph P. Cryan, D-Union, sponsored the companion bill. He introduced SB4020 in the Senate.
Like the Assembly bill that hasn’t moved since Jasey introduced it on May 25, the Senate measure “prohibits sports wagering partnerships at institutions of higher education.”
Gambling Among the Young Is Increasing
Problem gambling is an issue for younger demographics. According to a survey by the NCAA, 58% of 18-22-year-olds have placed a wager in the last year, even though many are under legal age. Those living on campus are likelier to gamble, with 67% having placed a wager. Advertisements may also play a role, as 63% of on-campus students recall seeing gambling ads. The survey also found that 16% of college students have engaged in risky gambling.
College students aren’t the only ones gambling. According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, 60%-80% of high school students have gambled for money. About 4% to 7% of teens show signs of gambling problems, roughly twice the rate of adults.
Bill Aims to Avoid Failed Deals From Other States
The gambling education bill would be a proactive move. There are no partnerships in New Jersey between colleges and sportsbooks, and none are imminent.
New Jersey might be looking to avoid issues that have shown up in other states. PointsBet and the University of Colorado terminated their sponsorship contract in March. Under the 5-year deal, PointsBet would be the official gambling partner of the athletic department. PointsBet also terminated a similar agreement with the University of Maryland in May.
Caesars Entertainment terminated a 5-year, $9 million deal with Michigan State University in May. Caesars also terminated a similar agreement with Louisiana State University.
These moves may have happened due to concerns over public criticism and possible government regulatory action.
New Jersey Promotes Responsible Gambling
The proposed bill is another effort in New Jersey to fight problem gambling. The state has established itself as a leader in promoting responsible gambling. Some recently introduced bills include the following proposals:
- Compulsive gambling treatment for underage gamblers: The bill sponsored by state Sen. James Beach, D-Burlington, would allow courts to fine underage gamblers, send them to treatment, or both.
- Create the position of responsible gaming coordinator: According to New Jersey Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin, the position would evaluate the state’s responsible gambling efforts and determine if they need to be addressed.
- Create a gambling court: The bill would create a gambling court to oversee non-violent offenders motivated by gambling addiction. Instead of sending them to prison, the court would assign them rehabilitation programs.
Most of the efforts have only been introduced and might not pass. But they are signs of New Jersey’s commitment to fighting problem gambling.
Problem Gambling Funding & Education Needed
Many states, like New Jersey, are starting to pay more attention to problem gambling. But they might not be allocating enough money in their budgets for programs. According to the National Association of Administrators for Disordered Gambling Services (NAADGS), US spending on services to treat gambling addiction was 38 cents per capita in 2022.
NAADGS thinks the number should be higher. States spent a total of $104.3 million in 2022. NAADGS recommends allocating 2% of gross gaming revenue to problem gambling services. That would bring the number to around $1.2 billion nationally. States are increasing their spending on programs. But they’re not keeping up with the increase in gambling revenue. Allocating a number close to the estimate would significantly help to promote responsible gambling.
Increased education could also help reduce problem gambling, especially among younger demographics. The US falls behind other countries where programs exist for children as young as nine. A proposed bill in Michigan is looking to change that. SB54 aims to add gambling education in schools. The bill has support from multiple organizations, so it has a chance to pass.