New Jersey Online Casinos Legal

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    Bill A2578

    On February 26, 2013, the NJ Legislature legalized New Jersey Online Casinos within its borders through the passage of bill A2578. The legislation was the brainchild of Sen. Ray Lesniak, who pushed the bill as a way to stimulate Atlantic City’s ailing economy.

    New Jersey’s push to legalize in-state online gambling began in January of 2010, when State Sen. Ray Lesniak (D-Union) introduced bill S 3167, a measure that would allow licensed Atlantic City casinos to offer online poker and online casino games to those inside the Garden State.

    The legislation was part of an effort to revitalize New Jersey’s brick-and-mortar casinos, which faced a prolonged decline in revenue due to an economic downturn and competition from neighboring states. To become regulated, iGaming operators would need to pay a $200,000 licensing fee and a yearly payment of $100,000 that would be taxed at a rate of 20%.

    In November, S 3167 passed through the Senate by a wide margin of 29-5, but was not put up to a vote in the Assembly that year due to the addition of a last-minute amendment. At the beginning of 2011, the revised bill was passed by both the Assembly (63-11-3) and the Senate (34-2), but was subsequently vetoed by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who worried about the expansion of gambling outside of Atlantic City.

    In December, with the outlook for US online gambling looking as bleak as ever, the Department of Justice issued a critical opinion on the Wire Act, legislation created in 1961 that had been used, somewhat creatively, as the basis to block iGaming in the country. The ruling essentially stated that online betting unrelated to sporting events should not be considered illegal under the legislation.

    With the green light from federal officials, Gov. Christie reversed his opposition to iGaming, and Sen. Lesniak got back to work on new legislation. This time around, Lesniak took into account some of Christie’s suggestions, like housing all computer equipment and servers inside Atlantic City-based casinos and outlawing Internet gambling parlors, in crafting his bill.

    Lesniak, along with Senate colleague and co-sponsor James Whelen (D – Atlantic City) soon introduced SB S1565 and its companion, AB A2578. The two bills kept the earlier $200,000 licensing fee and $100,000 annual charge, but slashed the tax rate in half to 10%.

    On December 17, the New Jersey Assembly passed A2578 by a margin of 48-24. A few days later, the Senate approved its companion by an overwhelming 33-3 vote. The bill Christie conditionally vetoed in February, had some amendments made to it, including increasing the tax rate from 10 to 15%. That same day, Chris Christie signed the bill into law, making New Jersey the third state, behind Nevada and Delaware, to legalize online gambling.

    Online gambling is legal in New Jersey. This includes online casino gambling, poker, sports betting, horse race betting, and daily fantasy sports (DFS).

    A law was passed in February 2013 which allowed casinos in Atlantic City to partner with online operators to offer online casinos and poker to residents. In 2017, another bill legalizing DFS was passed. The following year after the US Supreme Court ruled PASPA unconstitutional, Governor Phil Murphy signed Assembly Bill 4111 into law, which saw the legalization of sports betting in NJ. This included digital sports betting and the first online sportsbooks launched in August that year.

    Regulation

    The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE) regulates all the casinos in Atlantic City and is also responsible for authorizing and regulating all online gambling sites. It is worth noting that while all forms of online gambling are legal in New Jersey, this is only true for the sites that have been approved and are regulated by the NJDGE. Gambling at an off-shore site is illegal from inside the borders of the state.

    Age restrictions too apply to online gambling. For online casinos, poker rooms, and sportsbooks, the legal gambling age is 21. For DFS and horse race betting, you can place legal wagers online at the age of 18. Additionally, you must be physically located in the state of NJ to have access to any of their regulated sites.

    Who Can Play?

    New Jersey regulators tightly restrict and monitor who can gamble at NJ online casinos. Here’s what you need to know about who is eligible to play:

    • Only users 21 years of age and above can gamble for real money
    • Players must be physically inside the state of New Jersey
    • Users are not required to be a New Jersey resident to play
    • Players can create and fund an account from anywhere in the world, but can’t play until inside the state

    Operators are tasked with enforcing the above requirements and are serious about verifying the age and location of each user before allowing them to gamble. These critical details are established through geolocation software, which can pinpoint exactly where a user is playing from, and by cross checking users’ details with public databases and credit reporting agencies.

    Which Games are Allowed

    A2578 allows operators to offer poker, slots, blackjack, craps, roulette, video poker, and numerous other casino games, and leaves room for future games to be added as well.

    Popular names like roulette, baccarat, blackjack, craps, big six wheel, slot machines, mini-baccarat, red dog, pai gow and sic bo; any variations or composites of such games, provided that such variations or composites are found by the (DGE) suitable for use after an appropriate “test period”; and any other game which is determined to be compatible with the public interest.

    One example of a format that has been added since NJ online gambling went live is skill-based games, which are currently available in select Atlantic City casinos and may find their way online.


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