Gambling in New Jersey
Gambling in New Jersey includes casino gambling in Atlantic City, the New Jersey Lottery, horse racing, off-track betting, charity gambling, amusement games, and social gambling. New Jersey's gambling laws are among the least restrictive in the United States. In 2013, the state began to allow in-state online gambling. Five years later, the state won a lawsuit that dismantled Nevada's monopoly on legal sports betting.
Gambling has a long legacy in New Jersey, with the state historically being more permissive of gambling than most other states. Until they were banned in 1844, lotteries were common in New Jersey. They were used to help pay for the military during the French and Indian War and American Revolution, and help finance the construction of Queen's College (now Rutgers University) and the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University).
Freehold Raceway is the oldest racetrack in the United States, with horse racing having taken place there informally since the 1830s. The Monmouth County Agricultural Society was formed on December 17, 1853, and in 1854 they began holding an annual fair with harness racing at Freehold Raceway Monmouth Park Racetrack opened in 1870. In 1894, the New Jersey Legislature banned parimutuel gambling, and in 1897 the voters of New Jersey approved a referendum which amended the state constitution to ban all gambling (or possibly all commercial gambling).
Expansion of gambling
From 1894 to 1939, all gambling was theoretically outlawed in New Jersey, but enforcement was spotty, and it is not clear whether social gambling was prohibited. Bookmaking, numbers games, and slot machines were common through the state, many churches and other non-profit organizations openly held bingos, and Freehold Raceway operated without interruption. Racetrack gambling was re-legalized in 1939. In 1953, voters approved a referendum to officially allow non-profit organizations to have bingo and raffles. In 1959, amusement games were re-legalized after a 1957 court decision had declared them to be a form of illegal gambling. In 1970, 81.5% of New Jersey voted in favor of a referendum creating the New Jersey Lottery, and in 1975, New Jersey initiated the Pick-It (later renamed the Pick-3), the first legal lottery game in the United States where buyers could pick their own numbers.
In 1974, New Jersey voters voted against legalizing casino gambling statewide, but two years later approved a new referendum which legalized casinos, but restricted them to Atlantic City. At that time, Nevada was the only state with legal casino gambling. Resorts Atlantic City was the first casino to open in 1978. As part of the state's budget showdown in 2006, gambling in Atlantic City's casinos and at racetracks in the state were forced to close after it was determined that the official monitors from the New Jersey Casino Control Commission were essential and New Jersey law stated that gambling establishments could not legally operate without state oversight. The closures cost the state an estimated $1.3 million in casino revenues in addition to the loss of state taxes collected on casino employee wages.
In January 2012, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed legislation allowing sports betting in New Jersey after it was approved by a 2-to-1 margin in a voter referendum held in November 2011. The law permits any of the state's 12 casinos and 4 racetracks to offer gambling on professional and college sports, but prohibits them from accepting bets on college events played in New Jersey, or out-of-state games involving New Jersey college teams. The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement subsequently issued regulations for sports betting.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the National Basketball Association (NBA), the National Football League (NFL), the National Hockey League, and Major League Baseball filed a federal lawsuit against New Jersey to prevent sports betting, based on the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 which banned sports betting in all but four states. In February 2013, United States District Court judge Michael A. Shipp ruled in favor of the athletic leagues, and barred New Jersey from issuing sports betting licenses. The court ruled that under the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution, the regulation of gambling and the granting of a grandfather clause to four states is within Congress's power. In September 2013, a three-judge panel from the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals voted 2-1 to uphold Shipp's decision.[needs update] Christie said he will appeal the case to the United States Supreme Court.
In 2014, New Jersey challenged the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) which had effectively grandfathered Nevada's federal statutory monopoly on legal sports betting.
On June 27, 2017, the Supreme Court agreed to hear Christie v. National Collegiate Athletic Association. On May 14, 2018, the court issued its opinion in Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association (the case had been renamed due to the election of Phil Murphy as governor). The Court overturned the Appeals Court decision, ruling that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was unconstitutional. Justice Alito wrote the opinion supporting New Jersey's assertion.
This allowed New Jersey to move ahead with plans to implement legalized sports betting. On June 11, 2018, Governor Phil Murphy signed Assembly Bill 4111, legalizing sports betting at casinos and racetracks within New Jersey. It also allowed casinos and racetracks to seek approval for online and mobile sports betting after thirty days. The first online sports bet was taken in August 2018. As of 2020, there are 17 legal online sportsbooks licensed by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement.
In January 2011, the New Jersey Legislature passed a bill sponsored by Raymond Lesniak to allow online gambling by New Jersey residents over 21. Because the state constitution allows casino gambling only in Atlantic City, the legislation specified that the computer servers operating the online gambling websites must be located at licensed casinos in Atlantic City. The Lesniak bill evaded possible federal prohibitions against online gambling by authorizing the Casino Control Commission to create regulations to ensure the bets were placed from inside New Jersey. However, Governor Chris Christie vetoed the legislation because of 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", and "the bill further created a legal fiction that a bet placed anywhere in New Jersey counted as an Atlantic City bet".
In December 2011, the United States Justice Department issued a legal opinion that the Federal Wire Act prohibits only online sports betting, not online casino games. John Wefing, a constitutional scholar at Seton Hall Law School, told a state Assembly committee that he did not believe a constitutional amendment was needed to authorize online gambling because "any online poker bet would not be completed until a server in Atlantic City accepted the wager," and "wagers are contracts, and the law recognizes that contracts occur where the final action needed to take place occurs." However, State Senator Jennifer Beck has stated that online gambling cannot be legalized with the approval of New Jersey voters, and several federal courts decisions have said an online bet occurs in both the location of the website, and the location of the gambler.
To address Christie's concerns, new legislation was drafted that prohibits businesses other than Atlantic City casinos from advertising online gambling, or allowing their facilities to be used for online gambling. On February 26, 2013, a revised bill permitting Internet gambling was overwhelming approved by the New Jersey Legislature, and then signed into law by Chris Christie. The law legalizes online casino gambling for a ten-year trial period, restricts the operation of the websites to Atlantic City's eleven casinos, and imposes a 15% tax on online gambling revenue, instead of the 8% currently imposed on casinos.[clarification needed]
The act requires that the gambler be at least 21 and play from a computer in New Jersey. The gambler's location will likely be verified through a global positioning system (GPS), and the bill allows interstate compacts to be signed in future in order to authorize multistate gambling. Comps will be available, but will need to be redeemed by visiting the casino. Macquarie Capital estimates that online gambling will provide Atlantic City's casino with $260 to $400 million in additional revenue per year. The Casino Control Commission will create regulations for online gambling. It is unclear when online gambling licenses will be issued, or if there will be any legal challenges to the new law.
Online casinos opened for business via a synchronized launch on November 21, 2013. At launch, game options were limited, but by 2017, twelve separate online casino brands offered many hundreds of games including a wide variety that have been brought over from the traditional casino world.
In June 2017, it was reported that the New Jersey online gambling industry had surpassed $100 million in tax revenue. The combined revenues of all online casinos in New Jersey now actually exceed the revenues of the three NJ brick-and-mortar casinos with the lowest revenue figures.
Expansion of casino gambling outside Atlantic City
The proposed New Jersey Casino Expansion Amendment (2016) resulted from an agreement among Governor Chris Christie and Democratic state legislators, but voters rejected the ballot question by a margin of 77% to 23%. State legislators were in deadlock over who would be allowed to own new casinos and tax revenue sharing. The measure did not say where the casinos would be allowed. Location and other matters such as tax rates would be determined by enabling legislation to be passed by the state legislature. A law passed by popular vote in 1976 gives Atlantic City a monopoly on casino gambling in New Jersey.
An analysis by Fitch, a credit-rating agency, determined that as many as four of Atlantic City's eight casinos would be bankrupted by expanding casino gambling outside the city. Supporters of gambling in North Jersey said the measure would help Atlantic City by redirecting as much as $200 million per year in tax revenue to the city. Opponents said it was unlikely that much revenue would be generated and that it would not make up for the losses due to new competition. In recent years, four Atlantic City casinos have closed, causing severe economic problems.
As of 2019, New Jersey has nine casinos, all in Atlantic City. In 2011, they employed about 33 thousand, had 28.5 million visitors, made $3.4 billion in gambling revenue, and paid $278 million in taxes. They are regulated by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission and New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement.
New Jersey Lottery
The New Jersey Lottery currently offers eight lottery draw games, which are sold by retailers around the state, including the numbers game style Pick-3 and Pick-4, the keno-style Quick Draw, the lotto-style Jersey Cash 5, 5 Card Cash, and Pick-6 Xtra, and the multistate games Mega Millions and Powerball. The state also sells scratch card instate games. The games are overseen by the New Jersey Lottery Commission, and the revenue goes to prizes (59%), education (34%), retailers' commissions (6%), and administrative costs (1%).
|Game||First sold||Frequency of drawings|
|Pick-3||May 22, 1975||Twice daily|
|Pick-4||June 9, 1977||Twice daily|
|Jersey Cash 5||September 30, 1992||Once daily|
|5 Card Cash||May 16, 2016||Once daily|
|Quick Draw||July 17, 2017||Every 5 minutes from 5 am to 2 am daily|
|Pick-6 Xtra||May 9, 1980||Monday and Thursday|
|Mega Millions||May 26, 1999||Tuesday and Friday|
|Powerball||January 31, 2010||Wednesday and Saturday|
|Instant games (scratch-offs)||June 17, 1975||Upon purchase|
|Lottery (original game)||December 16, 1970|
|5-Digit Daily Game||November 29, 1972||January 1, 1976|
|Lottery Bingo/Super Bingo||February 6, 1980||July 29, 1981|
|Lucky 7||February 3, 1990||March 10, 1990|
|5 Card Lotto||January 11, 1988||September 18, 1990|
|Lotzee||June 14, 1998||September 13, 2003|
|Monopoly Millionaires' Club||October 19, 2014||December 26, 2014|
Horse racing & off-track betting
New Jersey currently has three racetracks and five off-track betting (OTB) halls, all of which are regulated by the New Jersey Racing Commission (an entity of the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General). The state passed a law in 2013 permitting one horse race per year on a New Jersey beach, and Monmouth Park will be conducting a beach race in Atlantic City based on the Palio di Siena.
|Freehold Raceway||1830s (informally)
|Meadowlands Racetrack||September 1, 1976||East Rutherford|
|Monmouth Park Racetrack||July 30, 1870||Oceanport|
Current off-track betting halls
|OTB Hall||Opening Date||Town|
|Favorites at Gloucester Township||July 2, 2014||Gloucester Township|
|Favorites at Toms River||April 29, 2008||Toms River|
|Favorites at Vineland||March 30, 2007||Vineland|
|Favorites at Woodbridge||October 17, 2007||Fords|
|Winners Bayonne||July 17, 2012||Bayonne|
|Racetrack||Opening Date||Closing Date||Town|
|Atlantic City Race Course||July 22, 1946||January 16, 2015||Mays Landing|
|Garden State Park Racetrack||July 7, 1942||May 3, 2001||Cherry Hill|
The state of New Jersey allows charity gambling, where non-profit organizations (e.g., churches, fraternal organizations) to run bingos, raffles, casino nights, and armchair races. Amusement parks, carnivals, and boardwalks in shore communities are allowed to have amusement games involving skill or chance (e.g., spinning wheels, skeeball). Charity gambling and amusement games are regulated by the New Jersey Legalized Games of Chance Control Commission.
New Jersey permits social gambling (e.g., workplace football pool, a family poker game) insofar as the organizer of the game is on equal terms with the other participants, and does not take a cut of the gambling proceeds. Furthermore, it is never a criminal offense in New Jersey to be a player in a gambling operation. However, the New Jersey Alcoholic Beverage Commission prohibits bars and other holder of liquor licenses from allowing social gambling.
Each year billions of dollars of illegal gambling takes place in New Jersey. Illegal gambling operations range from employees who make money on office sports betting pools to online poker websites to multimillion-dollar enterprises run by organized criminals. Despite the availability of legal gambling in New Jersey, studies have shown that illegal gambling persists because it offers options that are not available legally, e.g. casino gambling outside Atlantic City, and because some gamblers prefer using a bookmaker whom they know personally. State law does not punish players, but a person operating an illegal gambling enterprise, or possessing equipment or records used for illegal gambling can face up to five years in prison. However, illegal gambling arrests are rare in New Jersey, and there is presumption of non-incarceration for first-time offenders.
A person must be at least 21 to gamble at a casino in New Jersey. It is legal for a minor to go to a casino, insofar as they do not gamble, consume alcoholic beverage, or remain on the gambling floor. Underage gambling at a casino is a disorderly persons offense (misdemeanor), punishable by a $500–$1000 fine and a mandatory six-month driver's license suspension, and plea bargaining of underage gambling charges is prohibited. The legal age for other forms of licensed gambling (e.g., lottery, horse race) is 18, but a person under 18 may take part in amusement games where the prize is an item (e.g., a stuffed animal), and not cash. There is no minimum age for social gambling.
- "New Jersey lottery turns 40 with record $2.6B in revenue". Inside Jersey (Star-Ledger). November 19, 2010.
- Richard Lehne (December 1988). "A contemporary review of legalized gambling in New Jersey". Rutgers University.
- Jerry Cheslow (January 26, 1992). "If You're Thinking of Living in Freehold Borough". New York Times.
- Barbara Pepe (2003). Freehold: A Hometown History. Arcadia Publishing. p. 81. ISBN 9780738524184.
- "History of Monmouth Park". Monmouth Park Racetrack.
- "Proposed Amendments to the Constitution" (PDF). Red Bank Register. September 22, 1897. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 26, 2015.
No lottery shall be authorized by the legislature or otherwise in this State, and no ticket in any lottery shall be bought or sold within this State, nor shall pool-selling,
- "Capsule History of Freehold Raceway". Freehold Raceway.
- The Encyclopedia of New Jersey. Rutgers University. 2004. pp. 298–299. ISBN 9780813533254.
- "'Pick your numbers' game to compete with illegal one" (PDF). Red Bank Register. May 9, 1975. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 3, 2016.
- "Casino gambling defeated by state and county voters" (PDF). Red Bank Register. November 6, 1974. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 12, 2013.
- "Casino gambling ok'd" (PDF). Red Bank Register. November 3, 1976. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 22, 2013.
- "Holiday action: Inside casino" (PDF). Red Bank Register. May 28, 1978. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 16, 2013.
- "New Jersey Casinos Close as Lawmakers Struggle to Reach Budget Deal", Fox News, July 5, 2006.
- Sarah Coffey (May 25, 2012). "N.J. Moves Towards Legal Sports Betting This Fall, in Time for NFL Season". National Law Review.
- Stacy Proebstle (May 25, 2012). "Sports Betting Coming to NJ Despite Fed Ban, Christie Says". New Jersey 101.5.
- "N.J. ready to issue sports betting licenses in January". Associated Press. October 15, 2012.
- "4 major pro sports leagues, NCAA sue to stop N.J. from allowing betting". Star-Ledger. August 7, 2012.
- National Collegiate Athletic Association v. Christopher J. Christie, No. 12-4749 (D.N.J. 2013)
- Christopher L. Soriano (March 1, 2013). "District Court Upholds PASPA, Enjoins NJ Sports Betting". Duane Morris (professional website).
- National Collegiate Athletic Association v. Governor of the State of New Jersey, No. 13-1713 (3rd Cir. 2013)
- "Appeals court upholds ban on sports gambling in New Jersey, says US law trumps state statute". The Washington Post. September 17, 2013.
- Matt Friedman (September 17, 2013). "Christie says N.J. will appeal sports betting case to U.S. Supreme Court". The Star-Ledger.
- Johnson, Brent; Salant, Jonathan (June 28, 2017). "U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear N.J. sports betting case". Star Ledger. Retrieved July 22, 2017.
- Wolf, Richard (May 14, 2018). "Supreme Court strikes down ban on sports betting in victory for New Jersey". USA Today. Retrieved May 15, 2018.
- "New Jersey Sports Betting Is Finally Here, As Governor Signs Bill". Legal Sports Report. June 11, 2018. Retrieved June 19, 2018.
- "New Jersey Online Sports Betting". May 21, 2020. Retrieved June 11, 2020.
- "N.J. Senate Bill No. 490 (2010)" (PDF).
- Dan Cypra (January 11, 2011). "Intrastate Internet Gambling Bill Passes New Jersey Legislature". Poker News Daily.
- "New Jersey Constitution, Article IV, Section VII, Paragraph 2D". Archived from the original on June 30, 2009.
- Fleisher, Lisa and Alexandra Berzon (March 4, 2011). "Internet Gambling Vetoed in New Jersey". Wall Street Journal.
- Fletcher, Juliet and Donald Wittkowski (March 3, 2011). "Gov. Chris Christie vetoes online gambling bill, citing constitutional concerns". Press of Atlantic City.
- Edward Wyatt (December 24, 2011). "Ruling by Justice Dept. Opens a Door on Online Gambling". New York Times.
- John Brennan (March 12, 2012). "N.J. Legislature could bypass voters on online poker bill, expert testifies". Bergen Record.
- Derek Harper (July 17, 2012). "Expert tells Assembly committee Internet gambling acceptable under state constitution if servers are in Atlantic City". Press of Atlantic City.
- "Online Gambling Bill Passes New Jersey Senate Committee". Casino Connection Atlantic City. April 6, 2012.
- "State of Missouri v. Coeur D'Alene Tribe, 164 F.3d 1102 (8th Cir., Jan. 6, 1999)".
- "Appeals court upholds Internet gambling ban". NBC News. September 1, 2009.
- "N.J. Assembly Bill No. 2578 (2012)" (PDF).
- John Brennan (December 20, 2012). "N.J. Senate overwhelmingly OKs online casino gambling bill". Bergen Record.
- Ryan Hutchins (February 26, 2013). "Gov. Christie signs internet gambling into law". Star Ledger.
- Suzette Parmley (February 26, 2013). "Christie signs bill legalizing online gambling". Philadelphia Inquirer. Archived from the original on January 16, 2014.
- "New Jersey Allows Online Betting Tied to Its Casinos such as Caesarscasino in Atlantic City". New York Times. February 26, 2013.
- Hoa Nguyen and Donald Wittkowski (February 27, 2013). "Christie signs Internet gambling bill after revisions by Legislature". Press of Atlantic City.
- "Looking Back On The History Of NJ Online Gambling Sites". Online Poker Report. November 30, 2016. Retrieved July 30, 2017.
- "List Of Games At NJ Online Casinos - 2017". www.njonlinecasinos.com. Retrieved July 30, 2017.
- Network, The PlayUSA. "New Jersey Surpasses $100 Million In Total Tax Revenue From Legal Online Gambling After Another Near-Record Month". www.prnewswire.com. Retrieved April 16, 2018.
- "How Do NJ's Online Casinos Compare To Atlantic City?". www.njonlinecasinos.com. Retrieved July 30, 2017.
- "2016 Official General Election Results – Public Question 1" (PDF). New Jersey Division of Elections. Retrieved September 13, 2020.
- "Voters Will Decide Casino Deal Where Atlantic City Loses". nbcphiladelphia.com. Retrieved April 16, 2018.
- "Christie, N.J. Democrats Agree on Plan for Casino Ballot Measure". January 11, 2016. Retrieved April 16, 2018 – via www.bloomberg.com.
- King, Kate (June 4, 2016). "Debate Heats Up Over Gambling for Northern New Jersey". Retrieved April 16, 2018 – via www.wsj.com.
- "Atlantic City Anxious About Gaming in Northern NJ, State Takeover of Finances - NJ Spotlight". www.njspotlight.com. Retrieved April 16, 2018.
- "New Jersey Commercial Casinos". American Gaming Association. Archived from the original on July 4, 2012.
- "FY 2011 New Jersey Lottery Fiscal Year 2012 Revenue Distribution". New Jersey Lottery.
- "Off Track Wagering". New Jersey Racing Commission.
- "N.J. Assembly Bill No. 4149 (2013)" (PDF).
- John Brennan (September 12, 2013). "American Palio at Atlantic City beaches on verge of being official". Bergen Record. Archived from the original on July 26, 2014.
The law authorizes the New Jersey Racing Commission to grant one beach horse racing permit per year. The permit can be granted only to a racetrack licensed by New Jersey, and the races cannot last more than two days.
- "Types of bingos, raffles, casino nights & armchair races". New Jersey Legalized Games of Chance Control Commission.
- "Types of certified games". New Jersey Legalized Games of Chance Control Commission.
- "New Jersey Poker Laws". US Poker Sites.
- "Can bars, restaurants or other licensed establishments run betting pools for sporting events such as the Super Bowl?". New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
- Ari Weinberg (January 27, 2003). "The Case For Legal Sports Gambling". Forbes.
It is estimated that $80 billion to $380 billion in illegal gambling takes place in the United States every year. State-by-state amounts are not available, but it is reasonable to assume at least one billion in illegal gambling takes place every year in New Jersey.
- "New Jersey: South Brunswick: Football Pool". The New York Times. January 11, 2002.
- Rudy Larini (March 25, 2008). "45 arrested in illegal Bergen County gambling ring". Star Ledger.
- Sam Borden (March 29, 2012). "Neighborhood Bookies Putting Lines Online". The New York Times.
- New Jersey General Assembly. "N.J.S.A. 2C:37-1". Statutes of New Jersey. New Jersey. et seq.
- "2011 Uniform Crime Report: State and County Arrest Summary" (PDF). New Jersey State Police.
There were 103 gambling arrests in New Jersey in 2011, 40 involving juveniles and 60 involving adults. The report does not break down gambling arrests by type, but most of the juvenile arrests are undoubtably for underage gambling rather than running an illegal gambling enterprise. Of New Jersey's 21 counties, eight had no gambling arrests in 2011.
- Travis Tormey (January 26, 2011). "Degrees of Crimes in New Jersey". Tormey Law Firm.
- New Jersey General Assembly. "N.J.S.A. 5:12-119". Statutes of New Jersey. New Jersey.
- Donald Wittkowski (December 21, 2011). "Atlantic City casinos target a new non-gambling market: Children". Press of Atlantic City.
- John Marshall (January 11, 2011). "Underage gambling charges in New Jersey". New Jersey Criminal Defense Law Blog.
- New Jersey General Assembly. "N.J.S.A. 5:8-59". Statutes of New Jersey. New Jersey.