NJ bill looks to ban gambling partnerships for college athletes

A bill that is nearing a vote in the New Jersey Assembly would ban casinos and sportsbooks in the state from endorsing college athletes.

Bill 5863, which is called the New Jersey Fair Play Act, would make it illegal for four-year colleges in New Jersey to penalize student-athletes for getting paid for the use of their names, images, and likenesses. The bill would also restrict the types of companies and individual that college athletes can enter into partnerships with.

Bill 5863 states, “A student participating in intercollegiate athletics shall be prohibited from earning compensation … with any person, company, or organization related to … casinos and gambling, including sports betting, the lottery;…”

If the bill passes and becomes a law in New Jersey, student-athletes will not be allowed to have dealings with any sportsbook or casino operators. That would mean NJ sportsbooks such as FanDuel and DraftKings cannot give sponsorship contracts to collegiate athletes.

It is not only gambling companies that would have restrictions. Tobacco companies, for instance, would not be able to sponsor college athletes in New Jersey.

It is feared that deals between gaming companies and college athletes would foster the kind of integrity issues that led to the creation of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA). However, online sportsbooks that are legal and licensed in New Jersey have integrity monitoring as part of their safeguards.

There are concerns that the bill’s proposed restrictions contradict its intent. The idea is to give student-athletes the same publicity rights as every other citizen of New Jersey, but the restrictions only serve to highlight the difference in standards for athletes compared to the other students and staff at any college. For example: while the bill would prevent Rutgers QB McLane Carter from entering into a partnership with a New Jersey bookmaker, there would be no issue if head coach Greg Schiano was endorsed by a casino or sportsbook.

There is legal precedent for states not being able to regulate college athletics. Also, the bill would not come into effect before 2024, by which point the college sports landscape and the language of the legislation may have changed significantly.

The publicity rights of New Jersey college athletes in relation to sports betting is new ground. The state’s view of the matter has its pros and cons.

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