In-State College Sports Betting Ban In New York, New Jersey “Doesn’t Make Sense”

Written By Mike Mazzeo on May 18, 2022

Big East Sr. Associate Commissioner Katie Willet’s personal opinion on the in-state college sports betting bans in New York and New Jersey: “It doesn’t make sense.”

“If it’s legal, it’s legal. Bet where you wanna bet. That’s my personal opinion, that’s not a statement from the Big East,” Willet said at the Gaming Law, Compliance, and Integrity Bootcamp at Seton Hall Law School. “Why drive across the bridge? It doesn’t make sense. Bet where you wanna bet.”

Colleges more accepting of legal sports betting

Even if it is a personal opinion, Willet’s view represents a growing shift for college athletics.

“Initially, there was a lot of pushback about how are we going to manage this? What are we going to do in terms of control? And I think it’s shifted to you have to embrace it and you have to make sure that your schools have the resources that they need,” Willet said.

Nine of the 11 institutions in the Big East are private, Catholic schools. Gambling may not be encouraged, but money talks. It wouldn’t be surprising if college conferences ultimately agree to sportsbook partnerships in the near future. In March, the MAC agreed to a statistical data deal with Genius Sports. Individual schools have also dipped into the sports betting waters, such as Colorado (PointsBet) and LSU (Caesars) inking deals with sportsbooks.

The NY and NJ college sports betting bans originally went into place to protect athletes from outside influences.

As per the NCAA:

To protect the integrity of college athletics contests, NCAA regulations prohibit student-athletes from betting money on any sporting event (college, professional or otherwise) in which the NCAA conducts collegiate championships. Violations of this regulation can result in a student-athlete losing his or her athletics eligibility, which has clear negative repercussions for the individual and his or her team.

NY sports betting ban hopefully changed in the future

But, in this instance, NJ bettors shouldn’t have to take a bridge or tunnel to wager on Seton Hall, just as NY online sports betting users shouldn’t have to make the short commute across the Hudson River to put money down on Syracuse.

New Jersey voters rejected changing the in-state college sports ban in November 2021.

Sen. Joe Addabbo has said he’s willing to re-evaluate the ban down the line.

“This issue is a fraction of the totality of mobile sports betting, but it’s something to keep an eye on,” Addabbo said. “(Some policies) start with good intentions, but we’ll see. If we’ve missed the mark on something, the legislature has to stay ready to correct it or improve it.

“I’m always thinking about the next step. I think that’s what the market dictates. You’ve got to be competitive, and again, New York has to play catchup, so you look at what other states are doing and say, Ok, we’ve got to do this.’”

Photo by AP / Jessica Hill
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Mike Mazzeo

Mike Mazzeo is a contributing writer for PlayNY, reporting on legal sports betting in New York while covering the potential legalization of NY online casinos and poker. He previously wrote for ESPN, the New York Daily News and The Ringer, among others.

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