The up-and-coming sport of pickleball could soon join the ranks of legal sports betting markets in New Jersey, but its approval still remains uncertain.
I first learned about pickleball betting’s questionable legal status in New Jersey a few months ago when a friend invited me to attend a local pickleball tournament. While observing the matches, we got to talking about sports betting. My friend mentioned he wished he could have placed a wager on the pickleball games, but lamented that it was not yet a legal betting market in our state. Intrigued, I decided to do some research on the requirements for a sport to be approved for legal betting here in New Jersey.
What I discovered is that the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) is the regulatory body that reviews and approves which sports can be legally bet on. For a sport like pickleball to get the green light, the DGE conducts an extensive evaluation of factors such as the sport’s popularity, betting risks, available data, and more. Essentially, the DGE wants to ensure any new betting market they approve is safe, well-regulated, and garners significant public interest.
While pickleball is rapidly gaining popularity nationwide, it has some hurdles to overcome before meeting New Jersey’s approval. As one DGE spokesperson I interviewed explained, “Pickleball is still an emerging sport without a lot of historical betting data available. We need more time to analyze and understand the intricacies of the game before we’d feel comfortable allowing wagers.”
That said, the DGE spokesperson did note pickleball’s growth trajectory could see it joining legal betting markets within the next year or two. A recent survey found pickleball participation in the U.S. has spiked 39% in just the last two years. Plus, New Jersey already hosts numerous professional and amateur pickleball tournaments annually. With sports betting’s rising popularity too, it seems inevitable pickleball will someday let bettors try their luck.
As for me, I sure hope to see pickleball betting legalized soon. Since that local tournament, I’ve become an avid player myself. Now my community pickleball friends and I are eager to put a few bucks on our matches! Our makeshift games in the park are fun, but I long for the day I can walk into a sportsbook right here in New Jersey and legally place a wager on a professional pickleball competition.
While the DGE has not provided a timeline on any decision, they say the possibility is still very much on their radar. I’ll be ready with my betting slip in hand the moment pickleball gets approved. Until then, I’ll keep honing my own skills on the court. Who knows – maybe someday I’ll even bet on myself! Either way, I’m hopeful pickleball’s expanding following and mounting betting interest will compel New Jersey officials to serve up legal pickleball wagers soon.