While Las Vegas may be considered to be the spiritual home of gambling in the US, it’s New Jersey that sits at the front and center of online gambling stateside.
Of course, you can review the top NJ online casino sites on the Slots.info resource, while New Jersey’s Atlantic City is also home to a number of brick-and-mortar casino brands and chains. However, the corporeal market isn’t as liberated as you may think, with gambling legislation in NJ a little more complicated than you may think!
In this article, we’re going to appraise the latest iGaming legislation in New Jersey, while also taking a brief look at offline gambling laws in the state!
iGaming Legislation in NJ – Then and Now
It was in January 2011 that the New Jersey Legislature passed a bill to legalize online gambling and casino gameplay, with this law sponsored by Raymond Lesniak.
While the Garden State’s iGaming market has since evolved to become the largest in the US with total revenue of $1.4 billion generated through 2021, its path to such success has been littered with a slew of legal and moral objections.
Prior to legalization, one of the keys sticking points was the NJ constitution, which only permitted gambling in Atlantic City. So, the iGaming legislation included a provision that all iGaming websites must be located at licensed casinos in the city, along with all associated servers.
However, Governor Chris Christie subsequently vetoed the bill, raising concerns that “allowing customers to bet through any computer terminal left open the chance of commercial businesses such as nightclubs and cafes becoming gambling hubs around the state”.
He also opined that the bill created a legal fiction in which “a bet placed anywhere in NJ counted as an Atlantic City bet”, creating another stumbling block for the legislation to overcome if a legal online casino market was to be forged in New Jersey.
Ultimately, further negotiation and the revised interpretation of the 1961 Wire Act to only prohibit cross-state sports betting helped the bill to pass and resist any legal challenges, while laying a foundation for both Delaware and Nevada to legalize online casino gambling and poker gameplay before the end of 2013.
So, online casino gambling and poker are now completely legal in NJ, while Garden State also makes provision for five different operations. Over time, the local government has created approved lists of operators on their website, with this currently including Borgata, Caesars Interactive, Golden Nugget, Resorts Casino, and Tropicana (many consider Borgata to provide the best online casino in New Jersey).
Within these operators, you’ll find several licensed casino platforms, while the tightly regulated nature of the market and exclusivity offered to domestic operators maximizes the amount of revenue generated by the state’s Treasury through iGaming.
In terms of upholding iGaming laws, the Division of Gaming Enforcement deems it illegal for any unlicensed or unauthorized iGaming site to offer services to NJ residents. However, while such operators can be punished to the full extent of the law in this scenario, no section of the existing criminal code makes provision for prosecuting players who are caught playing at an illegal site.
What About Sports Betting?
In the case of sports betting, this is now available through many of the state’s legal online casinos, with NJ having played a pivotal role in the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the controversial PAPSA legislation in May 2018.
This law had historically prohibited sports betting at a state level, but in June 2017, NJ and their state governor Phil Murphy bought a case to rule this unconstitutional. The Supreme Court subsequently agreed to hear the Christie v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, before ruling in favor of NJ and effectively striking down the legislation.
This enabled NJ to move ahead with its longstanding plans to implement and regulated legalized sports betting, with this lawfully enacted on June 11th, 2018. At this time, Governor Murphy signed Assembly Bill 4111 into law, legalizing sports betting at casinos and racetracks (and through associated mobile channels) within the state’s boundaries.
Since then, more than 30 other US states have sought to legalize sports betting in North America, although interestingly, only six jurisdictions have moved to create a regulated and monetized iGaming niche.
Regardless, NJ has been pivotal in creating any kind of legal gambling framework in the state of New Jersey, whether you consider NJ online casino sites or sports betting platforms.
The Last Word
Ultimately, all of the best online casinos for New Jersey players are fully licensed and regulated, while the state’s iGaming niche continues to grow from strength to strength. For example, last month it was reported that there was a growth of 10.4% in revenue.
A list of the best NJ online casinos also shows that many such operators run sportsbooks too, and there’s no doubt that New Jersey is one of the most open and well-regulated iGaming spaces in North America.
Interestingly, the state’s iGaming legislation contrasts sharply with the offline alternative, with the ban on tribal-state casinos one of many restrictions that have hindered brick-and-mortar operators. The good news is that online gambling remains a highly generative market in NJ, both for operators and the state’s treasury!
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