The USFL Is Returning This Spring, So Why Hasn’t New Jersey Approved Betting?

Written By David Danzis on February 9, 2022Last Updated on March 24, 2022
New Jersey betting for USFL

The inaugural season of the United States Football League starts in just over two months.

But will USFL betting in New Jersey be ready for kickoff on April 16?

While there is no reason to believe sports gamblers won’t be able to bet on the upstart football league, as it currently stands, no NJ sportsbooks can offer USFL bets.

USFL betting in New Jersey has not yet been approved, a spokesperson for the state Division of Gaming Enforcement confirmed to Play NJ.

Likewise, the USFL does not appear on the NJDGE’s list of approved leagues/events for sports wagering. The publicly available list was last updated on Jan. 25.

The clock is ticking. The two-day USFL player draft begins Feb. 22.

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Banking on USFL betting in New Jersey, United States

The USFL is the most recent attempt at spring football or an alternative to the National Football League. It’s a concept that has failed multiple times in the past.

In fact, the USFL itself is not a novel idea. A previous, and unassociated, version of the USFL existed from 1983 until 1985.

However, the new USFL has something other leagues did not — widespread legal sports gambling.

According to the American Gaming Association, sports betting is legal in 33 states (three are not live) and Washington, D.C. Five of the USFL’s eight teams are from a state with legal sports gambling, including the New Jersey Generals.

And, gambling on football is big business.

The AGA estimates 31.4 million Americans will legally wager more than $7.61 billion on Super Bowl LVI.

Not-so breaking news: NJ sports gamblers like football

Until last month, New Jersey’s sports betting market was the largest in the United States. Almost $10.9 billion was legally wagered on sports in the Garden State last year.

NJ sports gamblers like betting on football, too.

Beginning in September, with the start of professional football, NJ sportsbooks reported four consecutive months of over $1 billion in legal bets

In 2021, more than $2 billion was bet on college and pro football at NJ sportsbooks. That figure does not include this season’s NFL playoffs or futures bets placed in 2021 on the Super Bowl champion.

It would appear there is a market for USFL betting in New Jersey.

Why hasn’t New Jersey approved USFL betting yet?

So, what’s the holdup?

The NJDGE declined to provide a timetable for USFL betting approval but gave no indication there was anything causing a significant delay.

In all likelihood, USFL betting in New Jersey will be permitted by opening day. The boring truth is that state gaming regulators are simply being thorough and diligent before signing off on another new sports league.

NJ regulators are not skittish about approving legal wagering on events and leagues that other jurisdictions do not quickly embrace, such as esports and award shows.

The NJDGE’s approved sports betting list still includes three defunct football leagues: Arena Football League, Alliance of American Football and XFL

USFL betting in New Jersey is (likely) coming. It’s just not here, yet. 

Photo by Shutterstock
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David Danzis

David Danzis is the lead writer for Play NJ. He is a New Jersey native and honors graduate of Rutgers University. As a newspaper reporter for the New Jersey Herald and Press of Atlantic City, David earned statewide awards for his coverage of politics, government, education, sports and business. Today, he is Play NJ's Atlantic City “insider" and gaming industry expert on casinos, sports betting and online gambling. David lives in Mays Landing with his wife and two children. When not on the beach, a golf course, or snowboarding, David enjoys watching his beloved New York sports teams — Yankees, Jets, Rangers and Knicks.

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