New Jersey could have been the first state to legalize online gaming in 2011.
The state legislature passed a bill that would have legalized online poker and casino games. Under the constituents of the bill, servers would have been stored in Atlantic City — the only jurisdiction permitted to host casino-style gaming in New Jersey under state law.
Gov. Chris Christie did not feel that offering gaming to New Jersey residents by keeping the servers in Atlantic City would satisfy the state constitution. He vetoed it based on that opinion. The legislature chose to table the topic at the time.
The state legislature, lead by state Sen. Ray Lesniak, passed an identical online gaming bill in 2013. Gov. Christie conditionally vetoed this bill.
He gave up his constitutionality position, instead demanding a 15 percent tax rate, as opposed to the 10 percent approved by lawmakers. Christie also wanted more funding for problem gambling services.
The legislature approved Christie’s changes and the bill became law.
Fast tracked New Jersey online gambling
Christie signed online gaming into law in February 2013. The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement set a goal of launching within nine months. This was ambitious but the state managed to pull it off.
Sites were licensed within three months and online poker and casino sites opened on Nov. 21, 2013.
It started with a five-day testing period. All sites that launched were approved with the exception of Golden Nugget. It needed three more weeks to pass through the full approval process.
Five NJ online poker platforms
Five independent online poker platforms launched in New Jersey in November 2013.
The largest was a partnership between Party Poker and Borgata, the most profitable casino in Atlantic City. WSOP.com and 888 Poker launched under a Caesars license. The two sites operated different player pools at that time, but would merge liquidity in February 2015.
Ultimate Poker operated under Trump Taj Mahal’s remote gaming license. And finally, Betfair operated a poker site under Trump Plaza’s license.
Trump Entertainment, parent company to both Trump Plaza and Trump Taj Mahal, filed for bankruptcy in September 2014. This caused Ultimate Poker to shutter and leave New Jersey. Ultimate Poker’s parent company ceased its Nevada operations the following month.
Betfair closed its poker site in December 2014 after an embarrassing year in which it produced hardly any revenue. It would move its casino operations to Golden Nugget’s license shortly thereafter, where it would eventually thrive.
Today’s New Jersey online poker environment
These days, there are only three online poker networks in New Jersey. WSOP.com and 888 combine to create the busiest New Jersey poker network. Borgata and Party Poker operate the second, and PokerStars launched in 2016.
A small California tribal outfit known as Pala Interactive also said that it would eventually launch a New Jersey poker site. But with the launch of PokerStars, those plans to appear to have been put on hold indefinitely.
Pala does operate an online casino site in New Jersey.
New Jersey online casinos
Online casinos operate under every company that operates an Atlantic City resort.
- Caesars Casino, Harrah’s Casino, and 888 Casino operate under a Caesars Entertainment license.
- Borgata, Party Casino and Pala Casino operate under the Borgata Atlantic City license.
- Tropicana and Virgin operate under Tropicana’s license.
- Golden Nugget, Betfair, and Play SugarHouse reside on the Golden Nugget license.
- Resorts, Mohegan Sun, and PokerStars operate together under the same Resorts license.
Casino games available in New Jersey
Any casino game spread in Atlantic City is also available at regulated New Jersey online casinos. This includes slots, video poker, roulette, craps, blackjack, Three Card Poker, Four Card Poker, Ultimate Texas Hold’em, Texas Hold’em Bonus and keno.
Many slots spread by New Jersey casino sites are also found in Atlantic City. Some are exclusive to the Internet. The selection between the sites is similar but a select few, such as Betfair, offer more exclusive titles than the average site.
New to the industry are Live Dealer games, with Golden Nugget becoming the first NJ online casino to launch the format in August 2016. To date, no other brand has taken the plunge.
Live Dealer games are streamed in real-time from a physical studio that resides within the Golden Nugget’s land-based property in Atlantic City. Real dealers use real playing devices (wheels, cards) to determine game outcomes, but all betting is handled digitally.
New Jersey sports betting
New Jersey voters passed a non-binding referendum in 2011 that instructed the legislature to legalize sports betting. Lawmakers did just that and it was quickly signed into law by Gov. Christie.
The NFL, MLB, NCAA, NBA and NCAA sued to halt legal New Jersey sports betting claiming that it violated the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. The sports leagues prevailed.
New Jersey tried again to legalize sports betting by permitting it without taxation and regulation. The sports leagues once again challenged the new law.
The leagues prevailed in the lower courts, but in January 2017, the US Supreme Court asked the Solicitor General for a brief on the case, keeping hope alive for proponents of legalizing sports betting in New Jersey.
If New Jersey prevails, full Nevada-style sports betting would be permitted at Atlantic City casinos and at the state’s racetracks. Mobile apps would also be allowed in New Jersey.
NJ online gambling sites FAQ
Who can offer online gambling in New Jersey?
Casinos licensed to operate a bricks-and-mortar casino in Atlantic City may operate online poker and casino games. These companies may contract with software providers to spread the games.
Each Atlantic City gaming license may operate up to five brands. All casinos must offer cash deposits and withdrawals at the Atlantic City resort associated with the site.
Who can play online poker and casino games in New Jersey?
Players at New Jersey gaming sites must be at least 21 years of age or older. Geolocation software is used to ensure that a player is physically located in the state at the time of play.
How do I deposit to a New Jersey online gambling site?
All Atlantic City casinos are required to offer cash deposits for their licensed sites.
Visa and Mastercard are available at all sites, however, the success rate is on the lower side. Not to mention, credit card deposits will incur cash advance fees.
All New Jersey sites offer electronic checks (ACH). Use of this payment processing method for deposits results in exceptionally high success rates.
Neteller, Skrill, PayPal are eWallets available to New Jersey players. These are funded by bank accounts or credit cards. PayPal only permits deposits through an existing balance or bank transfer. At the present time, PayPal is only accepted by a smattering of NJ online casino and poker sites.
PayNearMe is available at many sites. This is a way to send cash from a 7-11.
Finally, most sites now offer a pre-paid card option. This is a more than serviceable option for players who have trouble depositing via debit card or ACH.
How do I withdraw from a New Jersey online gambling site?
Each New Jersey casino site offers cash withdrawals at its associated Atlantic City casino. Other common withdrawal options include electronic checks and check by mail. Players that deposit by an eWallet often have that option available for withdrawals.
What are the differences between regulated sites and unlicensed ones?
Regulated sites are required to separate player funds from operating accounts. Random number generators are tested to ensure fair games. All payment processing options are approved by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement.
Cheaters and fraudsters face criminal charges. A dispute process is available to players that feel that a New Jersey poker or casino site is not following remote gaming regulations.
Offshore sites have no regulation at all. If insiders want to rig the cards or steal money from players, there is nothing that can be done about it. Sites can close with no notice and run off with all of the funds. If there is a dispute, the site always wins because there is no legitimate gaming commission to moderate the issue.
Most unlicensed offshore sites left the New Jersey market when online poker and casino games launched. Those that remained were ordered out of the state by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement. Players should avoid these sites as there is no recourse if deposits are not honored.
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