New Jersey won’t be hosting any NCAA tournaments or events through 2022. The NCAA released their championship and regional sites for the next 5 years and New Jersey has been left out of the loop. Many believe this is because of the state’s ongoing case with the federal government regarding sports betting.
The NCAA has been the toughest sports organization on sports betting, even amidst the NFL, NBA, MLB, NBA and MLS. When New Jersey passed one of two laws that authorized state-regulated sports betting back in 2012, they were quickly met with opposition from all of the major leagues (minus the MLS). The proposed law was halted and New Jersey began the appeals process. New Jersey has lost several times in recent years in appeals to higher courts, leaving them no choice but to go to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court enlisted the help of the Solicitor General—a position currently held by Jeffery Wall until President Trump appoints a new one. The Solicitor General invited representatives from both sides of the case to a meeting in early April and is expected to draft a brief regarding the outcome. If the Solicitor General is in favor of the case being heard, New Jersey’s chances of getting their day in court will improve. However, there likely won’t even be a decision on whether the case will be heard until June, meaning the actual court date won’t happen for some time. Thankfully, legal betting in New Jersey is still available online.
This isn’t the first time the NCAA has blacklisted a state. Oregon is one of four states exempted from the federal ban on sports betting known as the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, or PASPA. Oregon used to offer Sports Action, a sports betting system operating through the state Lottery. Only NFL and NBA betting lines were offered, but the NBA options were dropped after a lawsuit. The NCAA decided to influence the situation by ceasing all NCAA events in the state. Oregon was forced to drop Sports Action altogether, as the economic incentive lies with hosting NCAA events. The NCAA brought tournaments back to the state once Sports Action was abolished. It was effective manipulation by the league, but with the emergence of the Internet based wagering options, legal betting in Oregon has been brought back to life.
Interestingly enough, there are some NCAA events, albeit not major tournaments like March Madness, in Nevada—the sports betting capital of the nation. There are some conference championships, including the notable Pac-12 conference, held in Vegas each year. This example of hypocrisy isn’t uncommon in the realm of sports betting. The NFL and NHL are launching franchises in Las Vegas, despite previously being against sports betting. The NCAA has remained the most vigilant against sports betting, but despite their efforts, New Jersey online sports betting still happens through licensed offshore gambling sites. New Jersey has launched state-regulated online casinos and poker rooms, which draw in quite a bit of revenue for the state, so it is also possible that New Jersey online sports betting spreads to these sites if their case is won.
New Jersey is more focused on their case than hosting NCAA tournaments, as they see the former as the real victory. If the Supreme Court hears their case and they happen to win, the sports betting landscape will drastically shift and the NCAA will have no choice but to adapt. New Jersey doesn’t seem to be backing down like Oregon did, and it may pay off for them in the end.