New Jersey is without question one of the most progressive states in the United States when it comes to gambling. Home to the country’s first race track and second only to Las Vegas in allowing casino gambling, the state of New Jersey has always been a pioneer in the gaming industry.
That is especially true today as the state became the first in the country to legalize online gaming in 2011. New Jersey also continues to fight for the right to allow its residents and visitors to bet on sports, and that battle could pave the way for sports betting legalization across the country someday if the state can win it.
Gaming Laws in New Jersey
In 1976, New Jersey became the second state after Nevada to legalize casino gambling. The state voted down legalizing casino gambling statewide in 1974, but approved a law that would allow casinos only in Atlantic City.
New Jersey made what could go down as major history someday in the United States when it passed a bill allowing online gambling across the state in 2011. Because the state’s laws limit casino gaming to Atlantic City, legislation specified that the computer servers used to offer online gaming must be located in the licensed casinos in Atlantic City. The Casino Control Commission oversees online gambling as well as casino gambling.
The passing of this law was unprecedented, and forced the United States Justice Department to issue a legal opinion on whether this was legal at a state level when there were federal laws in place against gambling. The US Justice Department stated its stance that the Federal Wire Act only prohibited online sports betting, making it okay for New Jersey to offer other casino games.
Residents of New Jersey can play both online poker and casino games online completely legally on these state-sanctioned sites. The state of New Jersey collects a 15% tax on online gambling revenue.
Sports Betting in New Jersey
Governor Chris Christie signed legislation in 2012 that would make sports betting legal in the state of New Jersey. Under the law that was approved by a 2-to-1 margin, each of the states casinos and racetracks would have been allowed to offer gambling on professional and college sports, with the exception being on games including New Jersey college teams.
Unfortunately, this law was ruled illegal by United States District Court Judge Michael A. Shipp. The NCAA, NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL had filed a federal lawsuit against New Jersey to prevent sports betting under the argument that it was illegal under the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. While states that had been approved for sports betting in the past were grandfathered in, issuing new sports betting licenses was ruled as illegal.
The ruling has paved the way for a battle between the state of New Jersey and the federal government on this issue. New Jersey refuses to go down without a fight and is still looking to get Shipp’s ruling repealed so that sports betting can be made legal in New Jersey.
In the meantime, the best option currently available to sports bettors in New Jersey is wagering at an offshore sportsbook. The state has no laws in place that specifically ban sports betting or sports betting online.
Poker and Casino in New Jersey
Known across the United States as the East Coast’s version of Las Vegas, Atlantic City is a popular gambling destination for residents of the state and tourists alike. The casinos in Atlantic City feature just about all of the popular casino games that their Vegas counterparts do including table games, slot machines, and poker.
New Jersey is one of the best states in which a poker player in the United States can live. The Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa has an 85-table poker room and is one of three poker rooms in the state to have at least 40 tables along with Harrah’s Atlantic City and Bally’s. These poker rooms offer both cash games and tournaments through the year.
Of course, what separates New Jersey from most of the rest of the country is legal online poker. New Jersey residents have four state-sanctioned, legal online poker rooms to choose from in the WSOP NJ, 888 Poker NJ, PartyPoker NJ and Borgata. While the country still has a long way to go in getting to a point where online poker is legalized nationwide, states like New Jersey are at the forefront of making that goal a potential reality someday.
Other Gaming Options in New Jersey
Horse racing bettors in New Jersey can place their bets at one of four racetracks that have live horse racing and four off-track betting halls that only have simulcast racing. The Freehold Raceway, which first started holding informal races in 1830 and opened officially in 1854, is the oldest racetrack in the United States.
New Jersey Lottery
Founded in 1969, the New Jersey Lottery offers players multiple options including scratch-off tickets, local draw games and national draw games like Mega Millions and Powerball. New Jersey and New York together run Cash4Life, a draw game in which the top prize is $1000 a day for life and second prize is $1000 a week for life.