The first ever fully legal gambling sites in New Jersey officially went live in 2013 after a lengthy period of planning and implementing a licensing process. Other states have passed or are working on passing similar legislation, but New Jersey was among the first along with Nevada and Delaware to actually get it done and let players sign up and play for real money at safe, legal, well known brands.
As long as you’re 21 years or older and are physically located in New Jersey, you can sign up right now and play at fully functional internet casinos and online poker sites that are operated by the Atlantic City casinos themselves.
Sports fans can play in real money fantasy sports leagues which is the closest legal option we have to actual sports betting, these sites are not associated with AC casinos, instead operating legally due to an exemption in the law for games of skill and further legislation enacted in 2017.
The best part of all is that you don’t even have to be a resident of the state – you just have to be in New Jersey when you log on. In fact, players from surrounding states are driving to New Jersey just to have access to the Sunday Major poker tournaments. We feel this is a great step forward towards legitimizing the industry here in the United States, as it has been in most of Europe.
Every betting site in New Jersey is operated in a partnership agreement between one existing brick-and-mortar casino and one software provider. The way the legislation was written made it mandatory that only existing Atlantic City casinos run real money gaming sites in the state. So as a player, you get the peace of mind knowing that you are playing at a site operated by a legitimate and longstanding brand.
Legal New Jersey Betting Sites
Games Offered by NJ Gambling Sites
All legal New Jersey gambling sites are run by one of the licensed Atlantic City Casinos, which also have the option to run multiple gaming sites under different brand names. Most operators have opted to open just one or two sites for right now, but it is entirely possible we see them open more sites in the future as the industry matures.
After New Jersey legalized online gambling, each Atlantic City casino partnered with one existing software provider to bring the games to players in New Jersey. This was actually required by the gambling bill because legislators wanted to minimize hiccups. So, they had the AC people team up with experienced software providers to ensure a smooth transition to the internet.
Current gaming law limits all online gambling in New Jersey to poker and casino only. You can play all the standard casino games (blackjack, roulette, slots, etc.) plus player vs. player poker. Sports betting remains prohibited both online and in the real world thanks to federal law, but this is something New Jersey is interested in changing. In fact, that state has been embroiled in a years-long legal battle to open its doors to sports betting. We’ll discuss that more in a bit.
New Jersey Casino Sites that are Licensed and Legal
1. Caesars / 888 Casino
Caesars joined forces with 888 for its casinos and poker sites. 888 has been involved in online gambling since the 90s, focusing mostly on its international offerings. The company has an excellent track record and knows how to provide a high quality experience to its players.
The company offers two NJ options, found at the following urls:
- #1: http://us.888casino.com/
- #2: https://www.caesarscasino.com/
2. Tropicana Casino
Tropicana teamed up with a London-based software provider by the name of Gamesys. Gamesys develops both casino and poker software for some of the largest gambling brands in the world. You can usually spot a Gamesys game by its bright, lighthearted and flashy graphics.
The official website is found at https://www.tropicanacasino.com/
3. Golden Nugget and Betfair
The Golden Nugget is partnered with Betfair to bring us a few casino sites and one online poker room. This is one of the newest partnerships as Betfair originally partnered with the Trump Plaza to host online games under the Trump name. The Trump Plaza closed in 2014, so Betfair switched alliances to the Golden Nugget.
Betfair has a long and positive history in the UK and has served more than 950,000 customers around the world. These two companies are more than capable of hosting fair and engaging games to players in New Jersey.
4. Golden Nugget and SugarHouse
SugarHouse Online Casino launched for real money play in September of 2016. This casino site is run by Rush Street Interactive and is named after the SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but operates under the Golden Nugget’s New Jersey license.
The brick-and-mortar SugarHouse Casino is located just across the Delaware River from New Jersey and thus already has a sizable contingent of New Jersey customers. Now, gamblers from New Jersey can visit PlaySugarHouse.com to play under the SugarHouse banner without having to drive across the river.
5. Borgata Casino
The Borgata Hotel and Casino is partnered with bwin.Party, which is itself a partnership between BWin and Party Poker. Borgata’s online casino got off to a great start by beating out every other New Jersey casino in revenue in the first months of business.
Harrah’s, Caesar Interactive Entertainment and Amaya Gaming are all teamed up to bring you HarrahsCasino.com. This gambling site has 120 casino games of all different types. Harrah’s and Caesars are also teamed up for the WSOP.com poker site in New Jersey.
The official site can be found at: http://www.harrahscasino.com/
7. Trump Taj / UCasino
Closed: Trump Taj entered bankruptcy proceedings in 2014, and Ultimate Gaming severed relations with the company shortly after. Ultimate Gaming itself eventually left the New Jersey and Nevada Markets. UCasino.com is now just a memory.
8. Virgin / Tropicana
Virgin Casino is the product of a partnership between Tropicana and Gamesys technologies. This casino site offers a variety of traditional casino games, slot machines and video poker. Virgin Casino is doing excellent work on the promotional side of things by giving out cash bonuses, free spins on slots and big table game jackpots.
9. Resorts Casino
Resorts Casino and Hotel went live with its internet offerings in February of 2015. This online gambling site represents the combined efforts of Resorts Casino, Sportech PLC and NYX Gaming. ResortsCasino.com is home to a long list of games and the quality appears very high. Promotions include first time deposit bonuses, a no-deposit bonus just for signing up and regular game-specific promos.
All in all, this casino is off to a strong start.
New Jersey Online Poker Sites
1. Caesars / WSOP
WSOP.com is available for real money in both New Jersey and Nevada. The two states do not yet share a player pool (each state has separate tables for residents), but they do intend to merge players from both states into one pool as soon as possible.
2. Borgata / Party Poker
Borgata came out strong when online poker went live in New Jersey and quickly took the top spot for player signups and revenue. You will find the most active tables at Borgata. The experience of bwin.Party behind the scenes gave Borgata a big advantage over the competition.
Website 1: https://poker.theborgata.com/
Website 2: https://nj.partypoker.com/
Website 3: www.palapoker.com
3. Caesars / 888 Poker
And last but not least, we have the Caesars and 888 partnership that powers 888Poker in the US. 888 has a long history in online poker and definitely knows how to give players what they want. A word to new players: 888 Poker is currently giving out a 100% signup bonus worth up to $500.
How Online Gambling Works in NJ
Any time we talk about legalizing online gambling and poker, people get worried that politicians will make a big mess of it with excessive regulations and taxes. New Jersey has so far managed to avoid going that route. To date, the laws in place appear to have struck the right balance between consumer protection and free market competition.
Casino sites and poker sites are allowed to offer all the same games that you know and love. This includes all the most common table games, specialty games, slot machines and everything else that you would find at any Atlantic City casino. There do not appear to be any limits on how low or high the stakes can go online.
The law that legalized online betting in New Jersey made it very clear that casino sites must make absolutely sure their sites can only be accessed by people located inside New Jersey. Sites do this by checking your IP address, positioning your wireless connection and even triangulating your cell phone. Industry insiders even said that they would rather see some people inside New Jersey be incorrectly denied access than to let a single person outside New Jersey get unauthorized access to the gaming sites.
Poker players in New Jersey are no longer restricted to playing only with fellow state residents. In October of 2017, Governor Chris Christie announced that he had reached an agreement with the governors of Delaware and Nevada to allow New Jersey poker sites to share tables with sites licensed in the other two states.
In other words, New Jersey poker players may now join tables alongside players from Nevada and Delaware. Poker sites licensed in two or three of those states are permitted to put players from both or all three states at the same tables. This was a big win for players in all three states as it results in busier games and makes it easier for existing poker sites to attract new customers.
What About NJ Sports Betting Sites?
Online sports betting is still prohibited in New Jersey, but there are efforts underway to change that. New Jersey’s effort to legalize sports betting dates all the way back to 2011. It was then that residents approved of a measure to legalize the activity. Governor Chris Christie signed the bill into law the next year but it was met with stiff opposition from professional sports leagues and the NCAA. The Third Circuit appeals court ruled against the state in 2013, but that did nothing to dampen New Jersey’s appetite.
The biggest obstacle to any state’s effort to legalize sports betting is the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) that bans the activity at the federal level. PASPA prohibits all but four states from authorizing or regulating sports wagering. The only exceptions are Nevada (all sports wagering is legal) and certain sports lotteries conducted in Oregon, Delaware and Montana.
A new measure in 2014 sought to sidestep the courts by taking advantage of a PASPA loophole. The 2014 bill took a different approach. Rather than having the state approve of or regulate sports betting, the bill simply ended the prohibition on sports betting. Basically, the bill said New Jersey would not prosecute local horse racing tracks or casinos if they decide to offer sports wagers.
However, a court found that New Jersey’s bill effectively served as “regulation” because it would have only applied to sports betting in certain venues (racetracks and casinos). As the New York Times reported in 2014, the NCAA and professional sports leagues argued that New Jersey could legally end its prohibition outright, but for everyone and not just for racetracks and casinos.
New Jersey got another shot in court thanks to a rehearing granted by the Third Circuit. Lawmakers were optimistic in receiving a favorable ruling even though nothing was guaranteed at that point.
That effort ultimately failed when the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled against New Jersey in August of 2016. A 10-2 vote from a panel of 12 judges found that the 2014 effort to exploit a loophole in PASPA violates federal law.
Two judges offered dissents to the August ruling. One judge took a literal interpretation of PASPA and agreed with New Jersey that merely permitting sports betting would be legal as the state would not technically be endorsing sports gambling. The other judge dissented on the assertion that PASPA itself is unconstitutional.
However, the two dissenters were easily overruled and New Jersey’s efforts to legalize sports betting have stalled. New Jersey has continued to push the issue and is now waiting to see if the US Supreme Court will hear the appeal. In January of 2017, the Supreme Court asked the next Solicitor General to review the case and make a recommendation as to whether or not the Supreme Court should take the case.
That request was made during the Trump team’s transition into the Presidency and was delayed until a new Solicitor General was appointed. In March of 2017, President Trump nominated Noel J. Francisco to the position. It was expected that if he was confirmed, his recommendation to the Supreme Court would most likely be the deciding factor in whether or not the New Jersey sports betting case makes it to the highest court in the land.
In the end, Jeffrey Wall was nominated Solicitor General and his office filed a brief recommending that the Supreme Court not take up the New Jersey sports betting case. It was predicted that the Supreme Court would follow his recommendation (as is custom), but much to the surprise of everyone following New Jersey sports betting efforts, SCOTUS announced it would indeed hear the case.
That whole case is still in the very early phases, so it will be quite some time before we receive an outcome. This is a case we will be watching very closely, because a decision in New Jersey’s favor would impact the entire nation.
A poor outcome in that case would leave New Jersey with few options. One route they could potentially take would be to repeal all state laws related to sports betting and refuse to prosecute anyone involved in the business. This is sometimes referred to as the “Wild West” scenario because it would make sports betting completely legal and unregulated. Even independent street bookies would be free to run their businesses how they see fit.
The day after the Solicitor General’s Office released the brief, New Jersey Congressman Frank Pallone introduced a draft version of a bill that would repeal the US sports betting ban at the federal level. This bill would be pursued independently of New Jersey’s current appeal against PASPA. Rather than challenging PASPA on Constitutional grounds, the bill would simply seek to gain enough support from Congress to be made into law and repeal the federal sports betting prohibition.
Many pundits have written articles indicating they believe the Supreme Court will rule in favor of New Jersey. If those predictions hold true, New Jersey will soon be able to regulate sports betting as it sees fit. Every other state in the Union will be able to follow suit.
However, it should be noted that the Supreme Court does not necessarily have to strike down PASPA entirely. In fact, the Supreme Court has ruled in the past that it prefers to issue narrow rulings that avoid the constitutional question. It is possible the Supreme Court sides with New Jersey without declaring PASPA unconstitutional. In that case, it would be up to Congress to draft and pass legislation to end the federal sports betting prohibition.
Why the difficulty?
For an explanation of why, we need to step back a few years. The whole reason New Jersey was even able to offer poker and casino games in the first place is because the United States Just Department ruled in 2011 that the Federal Wire Act applies only to sports betting and not to poker or gambling.
That ruling gave individual states the authority to legalize and regulate poker and casino games within their boundaries. Sports betting did not receive an exemption, so it remains illegal at the federal level. Thus, New Jersey was unable to do anything for all the sports bettors out there.
The federal government will need to revise its stance on sports betting before we see it legalized in any state. We have our fingers crossed, but we’re not expecting to see anything along those lines any time soon. The wheels of government churn slowly.
In the meantime, we can make do with online poker and casino games. Hey, at least we’re moving in the right direction. It’s only a matter of time until sports betting makes its own comeback. Key lawmakers are making a committed effort in the courts to overturn the ban and bring real money sports betting to the Garden State.
NJ currently does not allow online betting on horse or greyhound racing and does not have an online lottery, but does allow skill game sites.
Will PokerStars or Full Tilt Poker ever return to New Jersey?
Yes. Amaya Gaming (parent company of PokerStars and Full Tilt) received approval in 2015 to host real money games for residents of New Jersey. This comes after a delay of more than two years related to PokerStars’ and Full Tilt’s continued acceptance of players in the U.S. after the passage of the UIGEA.
It was a lengthy approval process, but Amaya finally received the DGE’s blessing on September 30th, 2015. PokerStars went live in New Jersey in 2016 at the website PokerStarsNJ.com. However, PokerStars is unlikely to benefit from the player sharing agreement signed between Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware due to Amaya being unable so far to acquire a license to operate in Nevada and Delaware limiting its online gaming licenses only to brick-and-mortar interests there.