New Jersey Gambling Sites - NJ Laws and Regulations
Thanks to Atlantic City, New Jersey has built a solid casino gambling and tourism industry. They also currently boast America's largest online gaming market.
New Jersey offers the combination of a large population (8.96m) and both legal online casino and poker games. This has helped the Garden State attract several prominent iGaming operators.
If you're looking for the best state for legal online gaming sites, then you can't do any better than New Jersey. We'll cover more on why this is the case below.
We're also going to discuss other aspects of New Jersey's gambling market, including land-based laws, brick-and-mortar casinos, the state's gambling history and FAQs.
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Online Gambling and New Jersey Law
Along with Delaware and Nevada, New Jersey is one of only three states that currently offer regulated online gaming.
The framework for their regulated iGaming market began when State Sen. Raymond Lesniak proposed a bill in 2010. Both the State House and Senate passed the legislation in January 2011.
One problem Lesniak had to work around involves how the state constitution confines casino gambling to Atlantic City. For this reason, all iGaming servers must be located at licensed Atlantic City casinos.
Unfortunately, the 2011 legislation was rejected by Gov. Chris Christie. The Governor was concerned that "allowing customers to bet through any computer terminal left open the chance of commercial businesses such as nightclubs and cafes" featuring online gaming.
Lesniak drafted another version of the bill that prohibited any business outside of Atlantic City casinos from offering iGaming. This revised bill was approved by both houses and signed into effect by Christie in February 2013.
The stipulations of the legislation are as follows:
- Players must be 21 years old to gamble online.
- The current iGaming framework lasts for 10 years (until 2023).
- Online gaming sites are charged a 15% tax on revenue (instead of 8% on land-based casinos).
New Jersey's iGaming market has seen its revenue increase over the years, hitting a peak of $197.6 million in 2016. This is still off from initial predictions, but it's far better than what Delaware and Nevada have seen in their markets.
Let's continue discussing the state's online gaming market by covering some important questions about the matter.
Do I Have to Live in New Jersey to Play at their Online Casinos?
No, you don't have to be a permanent resident, but you do need to be located within New Jersey's borders to play at online gaming sites.
New Jersey has geolocation software that determines when your wireless device is within state lines. This ensures that nobody from states without regulated online gaming will break the law by playing.
The Garden State initially struggled with their geolocation software, with up to 10% of players within state boundaries being rejected. This rate has been reduced drastically since then, and the geolocation software is very accurate these days.
Do Offshore Casinos Operate in New Jersey?
While New Jersey doesn't have any laws that specifically target online casinos, they've made it clear that offshore casinos are illegal in their state.
A 2016 press release from the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General announced that the state is working with the Kahnawake Gaming Commission (KGC) to combat offshore gaming sites.
Here's an excerpt from the press release:
"After extensive discussions with the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake and the Kahnawake Gaming Commission involving unique jurisdictional issues, the Division was able to ensure that any such websites originating from Kahnawake will no longer be available to United States residents in jurisdictions where these companies are not authorized to operate, after September 30, 2016."
The document goes on to discuss how Bovada - one of the world's largest offshore casinos - will no longer offer sports betting to the state of New Jersey.
"As a result, sites such as Bovada, a leading provider of illegal online sports wagering and other online gaming content, will no longer be operating out of the data center located in Kahnawake. Also after that date, the KGC will take regulatory action against any of its applicants or licensees found to be accepting such wagers."
Assuming an offshore casino does still serve New Jersey residents, the state could pursue them with section 2C:37-2. (a). This section states the following:
"A person is guilty of promoting gambling when he knowingly: (1) Accepts or receives money or other property, pursuant to an agreement or understanding with any person whereby he participates or will participate in the proceeds of gambling activity."
Again, New Jersey doesn't have any specific language in their criminal code that addresses offshore casinos, but the statue above is broad enough to be used against illegal operators.
Will New Jersey Legalize Online Sports Betting?
No, not in the immediate future. Although, New Jersey is bound to legalize both online and brick-and-mortar sports betting someday.
Just like he did with online gaming, Sen. Lesniak also drafted a bill for legal land-based sports betting. The legislation permitted all New Jersey casinos and racetracks to offer betting lines on pro and college sports.
Voters approved the bill by a 2-1 margin, and Gov. Christie signed it into law in January 2012. The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement followed by setting regulations for the industry.
But things began unraveling when Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Basketball League (NBA), National Football League (NFL), National Hockey League (NHL) and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) filed a federal lawsuit to stop New Jersey's sports gambling.
All five organizations cited the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992, which imposes a federal ban on sports betting.
U.S. District Court Judge Michael A. Shipp ruled in favor of the sports leagues in February 2013, thus halting the Garden State's sports gambling ambitions.
Shipp cited that the Commence Clause in the U.S. Constitution gives Congress the power to limit sports betting to the four grandfathered states (Delaware, Montana, Nevada & Oregon).
New Jersey appealed the decision at the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in September 2013. The three-judge panel voted 2-1 in favor of Shipp's ruling.
Given this history, the chances of New Jersey ever being allowed to offer legal sports betting seems bleak. There are signs, though, that sports leagues are lightening up.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told ESPN that he'd be open to legal sports betting because it's already happening through offshore sportsbooks. Silver isn't in favor of the activity, but instead calls himself a "realist" on the subject.
"[As] someone who's a realist in the business," he said, "the best way for the league to monitor our integrity is for that betting action to move toward legal betting organizations, where it can be tracked. That's the pragmatic approach."
As attitudes continue changing, New Jersey will have a better chance to legalize sports betting.
Will I be Arrested for Playing at Offshore Casinos from New Jersey?
After scouring the New Jersey Constitution's gambling section, we see nothing indicating that residents will be arrested for playing at offshore sites. This doesn't mean that you're in the clear, either.
New Jersey's definition of gambling is broad and leaves many possibilities:
"... means staking or risking something of value upon the outcome of a contest of chance or a future contingent event not under the actor's control or influence, upon an agreement or understanding that he will receive something of value in the event of a certain outcome."
This definition alone gives New Jersey the power to go after people who are gambling at offshore casinos.
Nearly every offshore gaming site blocks New Jersey anyways because the legal risk isn't worth the effort. You'd have to use a virtual private network (VPN) just to access offshore casinos from New Jersey, which only makes you look worse in the eyes of the law.
The good news is that you don't have to play at offshore gaming sites. The Garden State offers plenty of variety in regard to online casinos and poker rooms.
That said, we highly recommend you stick with the iGaming options provided by New Jersey.
How do I Choose the Best Gaming Sites in New Jersey?
Considering that the Garden State offers several Internet casinos and poker sites, you'll want to do some research before signing up and depositing anywhere. Here are key factors you should consider before doing so:
- Game Selection
- Welcome Bonus
- Promotions & Loyalty Rewards
- Customer Service
- Banking Options
- Read Reviews
Whether you're playing poker or casino games, you want a large variety to choose from. Browse the games section of prospective casino and poker sites to ensure that you're happy with what's offered.
Two important aspects to consider here include the match percentage on your welcome bonus and the wagering requirements. The higher the match and the lower the wagering requirements, the easier it'll be to earn your free cash. Read the bonus terms and conditions to figure out this information.
In order to continue getting rewards long past the welcome bonus, you need to play somewhere that offers good loyalty rewards and promos.
When you have a question or issue arise, you need a gaming site with knowledgeable and friendly customer support to help you.
The good news about New Jersey's regulated gaming market is that you can use more banking options than you'll find at the average offshore casino. Furthermore, this means that PayPal and Neteller - two of the biggest eWallets - are both fair game.
The best way to learn about all of these aspects at once is to read reviews. You should also Google customer complaints to see if there are any major problems with a certain casino or poker site.
Breaking down what exactly is or isn't legal in New Jersey. Gambling Venues in New Jersey
Where to gamble in the state of New Jersey. The History of Gaming Laws in New Jersey
A brief history of New Jersey laws regarding gambling. New Jersey Gambling FAQs
A list of questions asked about gambling in New Jersey Additional Information
Still have questions? Check out these links. The Future of Gambling in New Jersey
What does the future of gambling look like in New Jersey?
More Gambling Laws in New Jersey
Casino Games: Legal
Atlantic City is known more for its casino resorts than any other form of gambling.
For years, Atlantic City and Nevada were the only places in America with commercial casinos. Gambling competition intensified once more states began adding casinos.
Atlantic City especially felt the sting of this competition, with 5 of their 12 casinos closing in the mid-2010s. Now that they have fewer casinos, the market has stabilized and the remaining venues are experiencing success.
The biggest casino is Bally's, which features over 5,000 slot machines and 230 table games. The Borgata is also large with 4,000 slots, plus more amenities than any other casino.
Politicians have floated the idea of adding a casino at the Meadowlands Racetrack in northern New Jersey. The idea is that this will help keep state residents from traveling to New York and Pennsylvania.
These proposals haven't gone anywhere so far. Gov. Christie has favored limiting the competition to Atlantic City while the East Coast casino mecca stabilizes.
Charitable Gaming: Legal
New Jersey allows charity gambling, but they have a couple of notable rules that must be followed.
Section 5:8-51 2(a) states that charities must be licensed by the Attorney General's office if they award prizes worth $51 or more.
The other main rule is that only specific groups are approved to run charity gambling functions. This includes church, civic, educational, fire, first-aid, senior citizens and veteran's groups.
As with most states, all gambling proceeds must go to the designated charity.
The New Jersey Lottery was established in 1971, and has become one of the most-successful lotteries in America.
Their lottery sells over $3.3 billion worth of tickets, and includes 6 Pick Xtra, Cash 4 Life, Cash Card All in, Jersey Cash 5, Mega Millions and Powerball.
The Garden State's poker rooms are all located inside of casinos. These include the poker rooms at Bally's Borgata, Caesars, Harrah's, Resorts and the Tropicana.
Borgata has the biggest poker room, featuring 85 tables and prominent tournament events like the Borgata Spring Open and Borgata Winter Open.
Harrah's has the second-largest room with 40 poker tables, and they host World Series of Poker Circuit events.
New Jersey features some of America's oldest racetracks, including Freehold Raceway (est. 1853) and Monmouth Park (est. 1870). Both tracks hold live races throughout the summer.
The Meadowlands Racetrack is another based in New Jersey. As covered earlier, this is where some politicians would like to place a casino to compete with New York and Pennsylvania.
Social Gambling: Not Specified
The New Jersey criminal code doesn't directly address social gambling and declare it legal or illegal, but section 2C:37-1 does state that bridge, poker, betting pools and other skill-based gaming are illegal.
We believe this means that these games are illegal if run for profit purposes. After all, section 2C:37-1 declares that "players" are exempt from illegal gambling:
"A person who gambles at a social game of chance on equal terms with the other participants therein does not thereby render material assistance to the establishment, conduct or operation of such game if he performs, without fee or remuneration, acts directed toward the arrangement or facilitation of the game, such as inviting persons to play, permitting the use of premises therefor or supplying cards or other equipment used therein"
Gambling Venues in New Jersey
Both Atlantic City and Nevada were hit hard by America's Great Recession, which lasted from 2007-09. This caused the city's gambling revenue to drop from a record $5.2 billion in 2006 to below $3 billion.
Nevada diversified their entertainment options after the Great Recession so that they weren't completely reliant on gambling. Atlantic City, though, failed to do this, which caused a painful transition period in the mid 2010s.
The lack of diversification came back to bite them when more casinos opened in Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania.
Eventually, the following casinos closed: Atlantic Club (2014), Revel (2014), Showboat (2014), Trump Plaza (2014) and the Trump Taj Mahal (2016).
Despite all of these venues closing, New Jersey still has plenty of casinos and racetracks you can enjoy, including the ones listed below.
1- Bally's Atlantic City
1900 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, NJ 08401
2-Borgata Hotel Casino & Spaa
1 Borgata Way, Atlantic City, NJ 08401
3- Caesars Atlantic City
2100 Pacific Ave, Atlantic City, NJ 08401
4- Freehold Raceway
130 Park Ave, Freehold, NJ 07728
5- Golden Nugget Atlantic City
600 Huron Avenue & Brigantine Boulevard, Atlantic City, NJ 08401
6- Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
1000 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, NJ 08401
7- Harrah's Atlantic City
777 Harrah's Blvd, Atlantic City, NJ 08401
8- Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment
1 Racetrack Drive, East Rutherford, NJ 07073
175 Oceanport Ave, Oceanport, NJ 07757
10- Resort Casino Hotel
1133 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, NJ 08401
11- TEN Atlantic City
500 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, NJ 08401
12- Tropicana Casino & Resort Atlantic City
2831 Boardwalk Atlantic City, NJ 0840101
History of Gambling in New Jersey
New Jersey's first gambling legality incident occurred in 1844, when the state banned all lotteries.
This was a strange move considering that lotteries helped finance the state militia during the American Revolution and construct Queen's College (Rutgers University).
In 1870, Monmouth Park opened in Oceanport and became the state's first notable gambling facility.
This would be a short-lived experience because the state legislature banned pari-mutuel betting in the late 1890s. The same decade saw all forms of gambling banned in New Jersey.
It wasn't until 1939 that pari-mutuel gambling was officially legalized.
Casinos first hit New Jersey's radar in 1970 when voters rejected legislation that would've legalized casinos throughout the state. But in 1976, voters approved a measure to allow casino gambling as long as it was confined to Atlantic City.
The state initially allowed 18-year-olds to gamble at these establishments. This changed in 1983, when the state's minimum drinking age was increased to 21.
Casinos quickly grew tired of working to prevent underage drinking in their venues. They fully supported the New Jersey State Legislature changing the minimum gambling age to 21.
Even with the higher gambling minimum, Atlantic City continued to thrive and become a world-renowned casino destination.
As you can see in the timeline below, times have been tougher for the city in recent years, although online gaming has the potential to help them to experience growth again.
New Jersey bans lotteries.
State congress bans pari-mutuel betting.
New Jersey bans all forms of gambling.
Charity bingo and raffles approved by referendum.
Voters approve bill to allow casinos in Atlantic City only.
State drinking age raised from 18-21.
State lottery sales pass $1 billion for the first time.
Great Recession hits, casuing Atlantic City casinos to struggle
Lesniak introduces sports betting bill and Gov. Christie signs.
Lesniak revises online gaming legislation: both houses pass it and Christie signs bill into effect.
Monmouth Park opens in Oceanport.
Pari-mutuel gambling legalized.
New Jersey Lottery approved with voters overwhelmingly in favor.
Bill to legalize casinos is deeated.
Resorts Casino is first casino to open in New Jersey.
Minimum casino gambling age increased from 18-21.
Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs becomes first casino in neighboring Pennsylvania.
State Sen. Ray Lesniak introduces online gaming bill; it passes state legislature but Gov. Christie doesn't approve.
MLB, NBA, NHL, NFL, and NCAA sue New Jersey to prevent sports wagering; Judge Michael Shipp sides with sports leagues.
Atlantic Club, Revel, Showboat, and Trump Plaza close, reducing NJ casino market from 12 to 8.
New Jersey becomes first state to license PokerStars.
Trump Taj Mahal closes after dispute between owner Carl Icahn and workers union.
New Jersey Gambling FAQs
The Garden State clearly has a legal online gaming market. Nevertheless, questions can still arise about New Jersey iGaming.
That said, let's look at a few FAQs regarding Internet gambling in this state.
Three states have legalized online poker, including Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey. Thus far, only Delaware and Nevada have signed a compact to share online poker liquidity and create larger player bases.
The Garden State isn't currently interested in sharing players with smaller states. They see this as helping the smaller states more than it helps them.
New Jersey especially doesn't want to lend a hand to Nevada because the two states are rival casino destinations. This isn't to say that the Garden State isn't interested in sharing liquidity, though.
They've reached out to the U.K. about signing an Internet poker pact. but one of the biggest catches remains the state constitution, which requires casino gambling - Internet servers in this case - to be located in New Jersey.
This limits the deal to New Jersey players having access to U.K. sites, but not vice versa. Garden State casinos won't benefit nearly as much if the player sharing only goes one way.
This could create a problem as other large states regulate online poker and discuss signing a compact with New Jersey.
PokerStars is the world's largest online poker site, and they built their brand by violating the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Actct (UIGEA), which prevents American banks from processing offshore gambling transactions.
Because PokerStars violated the UIGEA, Delaware and Nevada labeled them a "bad actor," and prevented them from joining their iGaming markets.
New Jersey initially prevented PokerStars from joining their market for two years. But the DGE reviewed their application again in 2015 and granted Stars a license.
We've mentioned multiple times how New Jersey's casino gambling is confined to Atlantic City, and this is why all iGaming operators must have their servers located in Atlantic City, too.
John Wefing, a constitutional scholar at Seton Hall Law School, explained the matter to New Jersey's Assembly before they legalized iGaming.
According to him, "any online poker bet would not be completed until a server in Atlantic City accepted the wager."
He added, "wagers are contracts and the law recognizes that contracts occur where the final action needed to take place occurs."
No, but New Jersey is taking steps towards regulating the activity.
In May 2017, the New Jersey Assembly passed AB 3532, which would legalize daily fantasy sports (DFS). Here are key points of the legislation:
- 10.5% tax rate on DFS operators' gross revenue in New Jersey.
- Lays out consumer protections.
- Grants DFS industry authority over Division of Consumer Affairs, which is part of the Department of Law and Public Safety.
At the time of this writing, AB 3532 is currently under review by the State Senate. If passed there, it would head to Gov. Christie for final approval.
The three main gaming agencies in the Garden State include the New Jersey Casino Control Commission, New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement and New Jersey Lottery.
Here's a closer look at each of these organizations.
Established in 1977, the Control Commission is responsible for overseeing the state's seven casinos and issuing licenses.
Also established in 1977, the DGE helps oversee the state's land-based casino industry and regulated New Jersey's iGaming operation. Regarding the latter, the DGE issues licenses, ensures consumer protections and negotiates interstate/international compacts.
The New Jersey Lottery governs the state's lottery games, including 5 Cash All In, 6 Pick Extra, Cash 4 Life, Jersey Cash 5 Xtra, Mega Millions, Pick 3 Fireball, Pick 4 Fireball and Powerball.
The Future & Your Views
New Jersey definitely has a nice online gaming market, as evidenced by the fact that they're far more successful than Nevada and Delaware.
Of course, population has a lot to do with this - especially when comparing Delaware and New Jersey. The Garden State has also done a great job of offering the right games and attracting a large number of operators.s.
If New Jersey is to take the next step, though, they need to negotiate interstate compacts. This could allow them to offer more poker liquidity.
But the state constitution doesn't make this easy because iGaming servers must be located in Atlantic City. This has proven a major roadblock to working out a pact with the U.K.
Another problem is that Delaware and Nevada are the only other states that have regulated online gaming. New Jersey isn't interested in partnering with these sites, meaning they'll probably wait until New York, Pennsylvania and other large states regulate iGaming before expanding.
In the meantime, New Jersey has plenty to look forward to with their online casino games.
The Garden State draws over 80% of their iGaming revenue from casino games alone. This has helped their online gaming revenue increase every year since the activity was legalized in 2013.
Considering that New Jersey has a head-start on other large states, they should continue to be an iGaming leader for years to come.