Did you know that New Jersey was the first US state to officially legalize and regulate online casino games and that it was the third state to legalize online poker?
Online gambling was first instituted in 2013 in New Jersey, at Atlantic City, in the Atlantic County after years of deliberations, expansions, de-legalizing and the ultimate legalization. In 2016, expansion to two other states, outside Atlantic City finally happened through a vote on a proposed constitutional amendment. Currently, the state of New Jersey is challenging the grandfathered federal statutory monopoly on legal sports betting enjoyed by Nevada.
But, where did it all begin?
Even though the current gambling activities in Atlantic City, New Jersey cannot match what happens in Las Vegas, Nevada, you should know that gambling has a long legacy in New Jersey. The reason for this is – state’s historical permissiveness to gambling in comparison to all other states before the banning of lotteries in 1844.
What Promoted gambling
Gambling thrived in the 16th century because the money from gambling paid the guys in the military. The men in the military who benefited from gambling took part in these two wars:
The French and Indian War – one of the Seven Years’ War between 1754 and 1763, which pitted the colonies of British America against the colonies of New France. The money gained from gambling helped in paying for the military.
The American Revolution – this political upheaval that took place between 1765 and 1783, at a time when the colonists of the thirteen American colonies refused to submit to the authority of the King and Parliament of Great Britain forming the independent United States.
Besides war, gambling thrived on and helped in financing the construction of Princeton University, formerly, College of New Jersey and Rutgers University, formerly called Queen’s College.
Further developments in gambling
In the 17th century, there was a rise in freehold raceway, the oldest racetrack in the US but in 1894, pari-mutuel gambling (mutual gambling) got banned. In 1897, New Jersey voters approved a constitutional amendment banning all commercial gambling. Despite the law outlawing all gambling activities in NEW Jersey, enforcement remained spotty, and number games, bookmarking, and slot machines were common. Fast forward to 1939, and 1953 saw re-legalization of racetrack gambling and bingo/raffles respectively. Later in 1975, the first legal lottery game, Pick-3 got its approval.
The legalization of casinos took place in 1976 though all casino gambling activities remained restricted to Atlantic City – Resorts Atlantic City was the First casino opened in New Jersey in 1978. The activities of the casinos were under the regulation of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission.
A signed legislation by New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie approved sports betting in New Jersey in 2012. The state’s 12 casinos and four racetracks offered gambling services on college and professional sports. Sports’ betting has since been under the regulation of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement.
The New Jersey Legislature passed a bill to allow online gambling by New Jersey Residents above 21 years in 2011. Raymond Lesniak sponsored this bill. Remember the part where casino gambling got approval for operations only in Atlantic City; the bill had to put this agreement into consideration as they constituted online gambling. All online casinos restricted to New Jersey had to have their computer servers running the legal online casinos in Atlantic City.
But, how does the legislation ensure that customers do not bet from computer terminals at commercial establishments like cafes and nightclubs which can become gambling dens? To counter this, the bill created a legal fiction which stated that “a bet placed anywhere in New Jersey counted as an Atlantic City bet.”
To avoid the confusion and the disagreements that arise from the location of the person placing the bet and that the online betting company in New Jersey, the federal courts ruled that online bets should occur in the location of the website of the New Jersey Legal Casinos and the gambler. The agency tasked with overseeing all online casino activities in New Jersey is N.J DGE. The regulated sites are the sites run by partnerships of casinos as well as online gambling providers.
Currently, there are 12 operators licensed by the DGE and CCC. Businesses other than online casinos in Atlantic City cannot advertise online gambling. On February 26th, 2013, New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie signed (A2578), the revised bill permitting online gambling got approved and online casinos in New Jersey. There was a 5-day test period from November 21 to November 26th, 2013. It was then approved to run their operations online on a 10-year trial period. 15% gross gaming revenue applies to online gambling; this is double what the rate imposed on the Atlantic City gross gaming revenue.
In addition to the 15 percent, these companies have to reinvest 1.25 percent of their revenue (from the brick and mortar casinos as well as online casinos) into capital projects to benefit Atlantic City.
Expansion of casino games outside Atlantic City
In 2016, there was a proposed constitutional amendment to allow for the expansion of online casinos as well as land-based casinos out of Atlantic City. The ballot question in the amendment proposal read: “Do you approve amending the Constitution to permit casino gambling in two additional counties in this State? At present, casino gambling is allowed only in Atlantic City in Atlantic County. Only one casino in each of the two counties would be permitted. Each casino is to be located in a town that is at least 72 miles from Atlantic City. The amendment would allow certain persons to apply first for a casino license.” This amendment bill didn’t pass as per the polling results on November 8th, 2016.
The following sites have approval from the Division of Gaming Enforcement in New Jersey: www.Borgatacasino.com, www.Borgatapoker.com, www.NJ.Partypoker.com, www.palacasino.com, www.palabingousa.com, www.CaesarsCasino.com, www.HarrahsCasino.com, www.WSOP.com, us.888.com, us.888poker.com, us.888casino.com, www.GoldenNuggetCasino.com, nj-casino.goldennuggetcasino.com, www.betfaircasino.com, www.playsugarhouse.com, www.resortscasino.com, www.mohegansuncasino.com, www.pokerstarscasinonj.com, www.tropicanacasino.com, www.virgincasino.com. The companies behind these sites, the online casino giants in NJ include Borgata, Caesars, Harrah’s, and Resorts.
Though online casino and poker players need not be residents, they can only play in New Jersey regulated online gambling sites. Also, one can set up then handle all their gambling banking accounts from any state in the US.
Why the tight regulations on online gambling in New Jersey?
- Tax revenue – over $80 million dollars generated by the end of 2016.
- Support for brick and mortar casinos
- To provide poker and online casino gamers with a safe and secure gambling experience online. The safe online gaming environment guarantees the safety of funds for all players. This is because offshore casinos are notorious for stealing millions from customers.
How is the online casino scene in New Jersey in 2017?
Online casinos and poker games continue to thrive yielding economic benefits. It is one of the revenue-generating sources in Atlantic City and the whole of New Jersey. Surprisingly, it motivates more customers to be part of the land-based casinos. The online casino market is still bigger than the online poker market. There are more slot games availed online as the line between online and live gaming gets blurry with the rise in live dealer games.
Which games can you enjoy presently on online casinos in New Jersey?
You can enjoy online casino slots, online blackjack, craps, roulette, video poker, bingo, and live dealer games.
Unfortunately, online sports’ betting isn’t available in NJ yet thanks to the clash between state and federal law.
With all the laws and strict regulations for online casinos in NJ, any adult above 21 years old can enjoy safe, legal, and licensed online casinos New Jersey. Just make sure you are located in NJ.