Online Gambling For Real Money in New Jersey
New Jersey is a very progressive state when it comes to their view on gambling, even though there remains a real reluctance to permit it outside Atlantic City, at least the land-based variety of gambling.
It’s not that you can complain very much if your state still is the gambling capital of the eastern part of the country, where you can visit Vegas-style casinos without even leaving the state. The coming of a full-fledged online gambling operation to New Jersey has served to broadcast gambling from New Jersey to the entire state, where a great gambling state just got greater.
New Jersey isn’t Nevada, but for the moment at least, is as close as we have. Find out why New Jersey has been such a bastion of gambling as well as get a taste of all the things you can gamble at in this state.
History of Gambling in New Jersey
New Jersey started out its life as a state with a pretty good history of gambling under its belt already. There were no restrictions on gambling in New Jersey in the 18th century, and lotteries were popular back when it was just a colony. Public lotteries were used to fund things like the Revolutionary War as well as the founding of both Rutgers and Princeton universities during this century.
New Jersey boasts the oldest racetrack in the United States, with the opening of Freehold Raceway in 1830. In 1854, the track started offering pari-mutuel betting on horse races, which continued for 50 years until pari-mutuel betting was banned in 1896. The next year, a referendum was held which modified the state constitution to ban all commercial gambling.
Gambling remained prohibited in New Jersey for the next 43 years, although illegal gambling, including things like bookmaking and slot machines was widespread over this period, with little appetite for enforcement. Pari-mutuel wagering was made legal again in 1939. In 1953, a referendum passed to allow charitable bingo and raffles, and in 1970, another referendum brought on the birth of the New Jersey State Lottery.
New Jersey voters went to the polls again in 1974 but this time voted no on a statewide casino gambling bill. The bill was modified to just permit casinos in Atlantic City and was passed two years later. Two years later, in 1978, Atlantic City had its first casino open, Resorts Atlantic City, which is still in operation today in spite of many casinos coming and going in Atlantic City over the years.
2011 brought another referendum, this time to legalize sports betting, which passed by a 2:1 margin and saw a bill signed into law in 2012. Several major sports leagues sued the state to prevent New Jersey issuing sports gambling licenses. The court sided with the leagues, which was affirmed upon appeal. Governor Chris Christie took the case to the Supreme Court of the United States, who ruled in 2018 that the law that the lower courts based their decision on was unconstitutional.
This not only opened up the door for New Jersey to start offering sports betting, it also opened it for 45 other states that this law targeted, and caused a wave of legal sports betting spread around the country, no longer under the thumb of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act which was struck down.
In 2012, the state government passed a bill to also legalize and regulate online casino and poker. This one was vetoed by Governor Christie, but was re-worked to his satisfaction and he signed this revised bill into law in 2013.
Online gambling was permitted state-wide, but this still left New Jersey with the problem of land-based casinos being limited to Atlantic City only. Voters rejected the idea by a 3:1 margin and Atlantic City remains the only venue in the state for land-based casinos.
Atlantic City thrived back when they had the only casinos in the country east of Las Vegas, but the expansion of gambling around the country predictably thinned their business. This meant that Atlantic City now had more casinos than they could handle, and four of them closed down, settling in with the total of 9 they have today.
New Jersey Gambling Laws
Even though New Jersey is in the top 5 states in the country these days as far as being open to gambling goes, they still need laws, particularly laws that prevent people from operating unlicensed gambling enterprises, especially outside Atlantic City.
New Jersey anti-gambling law is completely directed at gambling operators, where there are no restrictions on people gambling, but you need state permission to offer it. The section of the law that pertains to gambling is entitled Promoting Gambling, and covers all manners of promoting gambling.
Should one be charged with promoting gambling in New Jersey, an acceptable defense is that the person charged only participated as a player and did not engage in promotion. The law stipulates that the onus is on the player to show this, although that’s always the case with defenses, even though this burden of proof is met by merely casting reasonable doubt upon the charge.
Players, therefore, do not even need to worry about New Jersey’s anti-gambling laws as there just isn’t any law against the activity of gambling in this state. Even if you are caught gambling at an illegal casino, you can’t be charged as a player and if you can show you are just a player you cannot be convicted of anything.
This was a bigger issue prior to New Jersey offering a full slate of online gambling, back when residents had to go outside the state to find the online gambling they wanted, which was the case up until 2018. Players can still gamble at offshore sites if they choose, even though the great majority choose the sites regulated by New Jersey.
Land-Based Gambling in New Jersey
New Jersey has a very rich horse racing history and still has 3 major horse racing tracks that accept pari-mutuel betting as well as offers off-track betting at various locations. The Meadowlands is the biggest and most famous, which also features Met Life Stadium, and has been offering horse racing since 1976. The Meadowlands is the kid on the block, as Monmouth Park first started offering horse racing cards in 1870, and Freehold Raceway is the oldest track in the United States, opening in 1853.
The New Jersey Lottery, operated by the state, features a full range of lottery games including Mega Millions, and a New Jersey resident once won a jackpot of $533 million playing it. New Jersey also allows non-profit bingo and raffle games, and although this is the tamest form of gambling there is, some states don’t even allow this.
The big ticket with New Jersey gambling is the big casinos in Atlantic City, which is second only to Las Vegas in this regard. All of New Jersey’s casinos remain limited to Atlantic City in the southern part of the state, and Atlantic City is closer to Philadelphia than New York, although it attracts visitors from throughout the region.
The Borgata is the largest casino hotel outside Las Vegas and one of the biggest hotels in the country period. It features 2,802 rooms, 4,000 slot machines, 180 casino gaming tables, a sportsbook, and a 50 table poker room. The Borgata poker room is world famous and offers some of the highest stakes in the country. The Borgata also is the leader in online gambling in the state, and all online operations are limited to Atlantic City’s casinos.
Harrah’s Atlantic City comes in second with 2,588 rooms and 177,000 square feet of gambling space. It boasts 5,567 slot and video gaming machines, 139 casino table games, Harrah’s AC Sportsbook, and a 40 table poker room. The Tropicana is another large casino hotel in AC with 2,129 hotel rooms and suites, 126,000 square feet of playing space, 2,400 slots, 132 table games, including a poker room, and a sportsbook.
Donald Trump once owned 3 AC casinos, and his signature casino, the Trump Taj Mahal, is now called the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City, owned and operated by the Seminole Tribe of Florida. This is not a tribal casino though, as the Seminoles own all Hard Rock properties. The Hard Rock has 1,971 rooms and 167,000 square feet of gaming.
The Ocean Casino Resort, formerly known as the Revel, has 1.399 rooms and 130,000 square feet of gambling. Bally’s Atlantic City has the biggest casino floor in the city, coming in at 226,000 square feet to go along with its 1.214 rooms.
Caesar’s Atlantic City, with 1,141 rooms and a 145,000 square foot gambling floor, is next in size, followed by Resorts with 942 rooms and 100,000 square feet, and the Golden Nugget with their 771 rooms and a 74,000 square foot casino.
Atlantic City’s casinos may not be as big or as numerous as the ones in Las Vegas, but this is big time Vegas style gambling with all of the fixings.
New Jersey Online Casinos & Slots Gambling
New Jersey has a penchant for wanting to confine their gaming to Atlantic City, and when it came to allowing online gambling, the requirement became that the servers for this had to be located in Atlantic City as well. This did help serve to soothe the concerns of the big casinos there, as land-based casinos are normally quite concerned about online gambling cannibalizing their land-based business, even though the two aren’t really that comparable as far as the overall experience goes.
It is especially hard to replace the experience of world class casino resorts like Atlantic City has, where if this were just a back room casino where people visit just to gamble with few amenities, online gambling would come a lot closer.
While the appeal of land-based casinos is a combination of gambling and the experience doing it, online gambling is about gambling and the convenience of being able to do it on demand and at will. Atlantic City now has both, and the fact that AC casinos are making the money in all cases with the state collecting their cut made the regulation of online gambling all the more appealing to all stakeholders.
It is not that New Jersey legalized online gambling, as it has been completely legal all along, and what has changed is that operators in New Jersey can now offer it legally. Real money online poker and real money online casino gambling came first, as the state had to deal with a federal anti-sports betting statute that only permitted sports betting in 4 states and claimed to supersede a state’s constitutional right to manage intrastate commerce as an exception to the division of powers in the U.S. constitution.
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down the law as the exception this statute claimed was not valid as you cannot legislate exceptions to the Constitution like this, because the Constitution supersedes legislation by design. This freed up not only New Jersey but 46 other states to finally regulate online sports betting, and New Jersey immediately took advantage of the ruling and passed an online sports betting bill.
New Jersey casinos weren’t in the online business and brought in outside help to manage their sites, which also involved co-branding opportunities which brought in some of the biggest names in the business, especially on the online poker side of things. The big names in poker are all on board, including PokerStars, Party Poker, and 888, and 888 is also a very big player on the casino side of things.
Playing on the New Jersey version of these poker sites are not the same thing as playing on the main sites, as players are limited to playing against just other players from New Jersey. New Jersey is a pretty big state but is dwarfed by versions that draw from the entire world other than the U.S. PokerStars main site has about 40 times more traffic than PokerStars NJ, and while the NJ site still has plenty of action, this is nothing like when you could play dozens of tables at a certain stake at once back when the full PokerStars was available in the U.S.
These poker sites have all exited the U.S. market in general though so it’s not that there is any alternative as far as playing on PokerStars, Party Poker, or 888 Poker. Once a state starts regulating online gambling, the tendency has been for sites that normally serve the U.S. market to step aside, at least so far. There isn’t anything stopping New Jersey players from gambling wherever they want provided that a site will take them, and therein lies the challenge of looking for offshore alternatives in states like this.
Casino gambling does not depend on quorums though and there could only be one player online and it wouldn’t matter, as you play against computers with real money online casino play. New Jersey’s selections are of a high quality and do not depend on traffic to make them appealing, as it’s enough that they are up and running to be able to fully enjoy them.
New Jersey has now added online sports betting options, and now have a full menu of all three major forms of real money online gambling, which many players are grateful for as they make it completely easy to play and especially to deposit and withdrawal from their accounts. Other states may talk about this, or even refuse to talk about it, but New Jersey is only one of a very few states that has walked the walk, to the delight of their real money online players.
Future of Gambling in New Jersey
The idea of Atlantic City catering to the 30 million people that live in the New York/Philadelphia megalopolis has become pretty outdated now. This was a great idea back in the 1970’s and even 1980s, back when the only legal casinos in the United States were on the other side of the country in Nevada, but times have really changed.
Atlantic City is still a fair drive from New York City, and while the seaside resort does have an appeal that you couldn’t get in the northern part of the state, New Jersey’s insistence in limiting casinos to AC was an unfortunate choice at the time and becomes more and more unfortunate every year.
If we consider how well Nevada has done, in the middle of the desert, and if you parked this idea right next to New York City, we’re left to only imagine how successful the casino business really could become in New Jersey. The state of New York does not have a very big appetite to approve big casinos, but if they were placed just across the river, that really would be a game changer.
The two to two and a half hour drive to Atlantic City might not seem like much, but when you multiply this by two, spending 4 or 5 hours on the road on a day trip there doesn’t seem that appealing to many. This has people spending more time driving than gambling, and that’s not a very good mix.
There’s not a lot of ways to improve New Jersey gambling over what it has grown to, and while the addition of live sports betting being offered by casinos has helped, getting rid of the idea that casinos are only acceptable in AC could go a long way. It’s not even easy to fathom why this remains the case after all these years, as casinos help local economies, and big ones help them in a big way, especially ones aimed directly at NYC as well as the part of the state where most of the people live.
The only real threat to this idea is seeing the NYC area go big themselves, but if that happens, Atlantic City is in even more trouble, as without visitors from NY, we would surely lose a good number more casinos beyond the 4 that have closed in recent years due to greater competition from elsewhere.
Regardless, New Jersey remains one the gambling capitals of the United States, but times are changing, and if the state wishes to have their land-based gambling revenues grow or even not to fall behind, they could stand to open up their minds enough to not want to just dump all of their gambling at the bottom of the state like they do now.
The online scene still has a lot of potential though and things are running full steam now with the addition of online sports gambling. Online gambling penetrates every corner of the state and without people needing to even go across the street to find all they want at any time. This is plenty enough to get excited about.
New Jersey Online Slots & Casinos FAQs
Is there any law against New Jersey residents gambling?
Neither New Jersey nor the United States have any laws against gambling whatsoever. This is a perfect example of how much propaganda can weigh in on the perceptions of the general public toward gambling. New Jersey has no law whatsoever that even speaks to the act of gambling. This is also the case with the United States, as neither the Wire Act, the UIGEA, or any other federal law even addresses the act of gambling.
What does New Jersey gambling law concern itself with?
New Jersey has a set of laws that do effectively prohibit the offering of gambling. Bookmaking for example is against the law, or offering any gambling to anyone without the express consent and licensure of the state of New Jersey. This includes any participation that furthers gambling, such as promoting it, creating it, or even creating paraphernalia to be used for gambling purposes. Anyone who keeps records of the gambling of others is also guilty of a crime in New Jersey. This state leaves players totally alone and goes after operators instead.
What sort of land-based real money gambling options does New Jersey allow?
New Jersey has a state lottery, charitable bingo and raffles, and three horse racing tracks that you can bet on at the track or at off-track betting locations. New Jersey gambling, at least authorized forms of it, were limited to this until the casinos came in the late 1970’s. Casinos were and still are limited to Atlantic City, and while the casino market has fallen off over the last few years, there still are 9 casinos operating in the city, ranging from pretty big to very big.
Why does New Jersey limit their land-based gambling to Atlantic City?
As progressive as the state of New Jersey has been with gambling, long the second most progressive state in the country and still in the top 5, they still approach the issue regionally. The people and government of New Jersey are happy enough to see all the gambling the market will bear in Atlantic City, but in the rest of the state, casino gambling is unwanted and remains outlawed. This state is a tale of two cities, which we could perhaps call Sin City and the rest of the state. Views on gambling in NJ still has a long way to go overall.
Why would it make a lot of sense to unlock the rest of the state to casinos?
Unlike with real money online casinos, land-based casinos are situated in the physical world and their physical location is therefore paramount, like it is with all land-based businesses. The great majority of the people in New Jersey live in the northern part of the state, where having casinos located there would also place them in the backyard of NYC. New Jersey could also benefit from building some in the Philadelphia area, a city that New Jersey is also just across the river from.
Why did New Jersey wait so long to add online sports betting?
New Jersey was eager to offer real money online sports betting to its residents right from the start, when they added both online poker and online casino games to the repertoire of their land-based casinos. A referendum was even held which easily passed, leading to a bill being passed in 2012. The state was sued by major sports leagues and lost, and the bill got struck down by the courts. New Jersey persevered, and the case finally made it to the Supreme Court who struck down the federal law that prevented New Jersey from opening up sports betting.
How did New Jersey’s sports betting fight open up the whole country to this betting?
Nevada has had sports betting since they legalized it in 1949, but when New Jersey sought to join them in 2012, they ran up against a federal statute that excluded Nevada due to grandfathering but stood in the way of New Jersey doing it. When the state took on the sports leagues and won a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision, the result was that this federal statute no longer applied to any state and many states stepped up to regulate sports betting as well.
What does New Jersey offer its residents for them to gamble online for real money?
New Jersey offers the trifecta of online gambling, which includes online poker, online casino, and online sports betting. Poker players can now play at their favorite sites of old, Party Poker, Poker Stars, and 888 Poker. These sites are not the real thing as they are ring-fenced to just the state, but they are still pretty popular. New Jersey’s online casinos are of a very high quality and very competitive with the best online casinos New Jersey players used to be able to play at. New Jersey now also offers high quality real money online sports betting as well.
Why do you need to be physically located in New Jersey to gamble on their online sites?
There is no legal obligation whatsoever for New Jersey or any other state to use geolocation. New Jersey has no legal interest in anything that goes on in another state, and no prevailing legislation requires them to limit players at all, aside from their legislating it. The only practical reason for this is to be able to maintain their monopoly in the state, at least as far as competition from other states is concerned, so they just wrote this in the regulations.
Can players still play at offshore sites if they wish while in New Jersey?
There’s no law stopping New Jersey residents from playing on whatever sites they want, or engaging in gambling in any place in the state in any form. This really doesn’t matter for practical purposes anyway because anti-online gambling laws are simply not enforceable. However, being completely in the clear legally is seen as a benefit by many players. The trick to playing offshore here is to find good sites that actually will take you, as the sites that take Americans generally do not accept players from states that have regulated real money gambling.