(October 2, 2020)When it comes to sports betting, the US can be a complex beast. It is, after all, a federal system – and each state can, within certain restrictions, decide on and implement its own laws. Nowhere is this system more obvious than in the arena of sports betting. Ever since the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was struck down in 2018, it has become increasingly common for states to adopt divergent approaches to the question of sports betting.
So what about New Jersey and Pennsylvania? Even though these two states are located close by and share a border across the Delaware River, they have different rules when it comes to placing bets on sports. Which state is better for the average sports bettor, and how do the two shape up? This article will explore further.
History of the laws
First off, it’s worth pointing out that sports betting is legal in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania – meaning that bettors will not have to take long journeys or overcome logistical hurdles (like bans on betting websites) if they want to gamble on the outcomes of matches. But in a sense, Pennsylvania will always be disadvantaged in this debate because of the fact that New Jersey was the state that spearheaded the repeal of PASPA in the first place.
The state government challenged the law in the Supreme Court in 2017, and in 2018, the Court ruled that the law was never in line with the wording of the US Constitution. “Congress can regulate sports gambling directly,” the Supreme Court said, “but if it elects not to do so, each State is free to act on its own.”
Aside from the role that the law and local governments have played, gambling is also embedded into New Jersey’s culture in a way that is – domestically at least – rivaled only by Nevada and its major casino city of Las Vegas. Back on the East Coast, New Jersey plays home to Atlantic City, a long-time casino resort that has adapted well to the arrival of sports betting both in-person and online.
The Borgata Hotel Casino, for example, was the second in the whole state to offer sports bets once they became legal. While this doesn’t mean that only citizens of New Jersey can enjoy top-quality sports betting opportunities, it does mean that the state has more of a stake in keeping sports betting culture alive. In many ways, the state has been the home of sports betting culture since day one and is likely to keep that title for the long term.
Both New Jersey and Pennsylvania have operated sportsbooks since pretty early in the post-PASPA period, and there are few significant differences between the two. In the eyes of the sports press, the two have taken subtly different approaches. Pennsylvania, for example, has a thriving mobile and online gambling scene – although this is also legal in New Jersey, and bettors there can access similar services.
The two states can also offer what has been described as a close-to saturated market when it comes to in-person sports betting. One report last year found that there were eight in-person sports betting institutions in Pennsylvania with more on the way, while in New Jersey, the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford is known for now offering sports betting options.
For providers, there is something of a question mark over how good these developments are. It makes it harder for monopolies to emerge, of course. But for fans, this is a great opportunity. With so many outlets now offering sports betting destinations (and with many such places also developing online versions of their sports wagering functions that can be used anywhere), there’s never been a more convenient time to be a sports bettor in either of these two states.
Sports betting is legal in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania, but that doesn’t mean the two are equal in terms of how useful they are for sports bettors looking to maximize their gambling experience. New Jersey provides bettors with a long-held gambling heritage that was largely responsible for the legalization of sports betting, to begin with, for example. Ultimately, however, the practical differences between the two states are far from extreme. Both offer legal sports gambling and have a strong betting market as a result.
*images courtesy of unsplash.com