New Jersey has a long history of progressive policies to gambling. These go all the way back to the 1850’s, with the first horse racing tracks. The scene we see today was triggered in a 1976 state-wide referendum, which saw casinos legalized. A similar vote had failed 2 years earlier. The difference to the successful vote was the casinos were restricted to Atlantic City.
In 2011, an opinion on the Wire Act of 1961 by the DoJ was issued. This paved the way for States to regulate and legalize their own online poker and casino gaming – by saying that the Wire Act only applied to betting on sports.
Legislation was introduced and passed, governor Chris Christy refused to sign it into law.
Issues were resolved, and in February of 2013, an amended bill became law. This set up a licensing body (the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement) and stipulated that online casinos needed to partner with existing licensed brick and mortar casinos. 9 months later the first casinos opened their doors – along with only poker sites.
Sports betting proved to be more difficult to regulate. While NJ passed legislation claiming the right to offer both live and online sports betting, legal battles quickly stopped any implementation. The pro sports lobby cited the PASPA act. After initial losses at the supreme court, New Jersey appealed. In 2018, they were successful in their final appeal – and the first live and online sportsbooks were opened.