In regions such as the UK and Europe, the legalisation and regulation of gambling are relatively simple concepts. More specifically, the practices of casino gaming and sports betting are regulated at national level, while the Treasury recoups tax income across a number of different channels.
The same cannot be said for the States, however, where individual state authorities have the autonomy to legalise and regulate different verticals as they see fit.
Perhaps the most progressive regulatory state is New Jersey, which currently maintains a brick-and-mortar casino industry in Atlantic City, a fast-growing online gambling niche and a burgeoning sports betting sector.
You can find more information on this at www.newjerseygambling.info, but in this post we’ll delve a little deeper into NJ’s gambling laws and the options available to punters.
What are New Jersey’s Gambling Laws?
Like Nevada, New Jersey has always been one of the most progressive and permissive gambling hubs, with Atlantic City boasting a casino landscape similar to Las Vegas.
Here, punters can currently wager on corporeal horse racing and a raft of brick-and-mortar casino activities, including slots, roulette, blackjack and poker. Of course, the law dictates that all such entities must hold a state permit to operate, and entities that fall foul of this legislation will face financial sanctions and run the risk of being permanently closed.
Interestingly, dog racing is prohibited in the Garden State, so it’s not possible to wager on such an activity either on or offline. While you may see sled dog racing at various fairs and exhibitions, you won’t be allowed to wager on this activity.
In terms of iGaming, the New Jersey legislature passed its A2578 bill to legalise online gambling within state boundaries on February 26th, 2013.
This bill also included the legalisation of online poker, and in the subsequent seven years New Jersey has become the single-largest market for regulated online gambling in the whole of the US.
In fact, there are now well over a dozen legal and licensed online casino sites and poker rooms, each of which compete in a cumulative market that’s worth more than $225 million a year.
Of course, we’ve also seen the revenues generated by online gambling in NJ reach record numbers of late, with income rocketing to a peak of $80 million in April (up $15 million from the record set during the previous month).
More recently, New Jersey was also one of the first states to respond to the decision of the Supreme Court to cut down the so-called ‘Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act’ (PAPSA) ruling that prohibited sports betting at a federal level.
This decision was passed by a margin of 6 to 3 in May 2018, and it paved the way for individual state authorities to legalise and regulate sports betting across an array of channels.
While NJ’s Governor Phil Murphy initially drew criticism for not taking immediate action following the ruling, the state swiftly became the second jurisdiction (behind Delaware) to legalise sports betting and open up a new market for state-sanctioned gambling at racetracks and online.
In addition to boosting New Jersey’s existing online gambling revenues, the legalisation of sports betting also has the potential to increase the allure of Atlantic City as a globally renowned wagering destination.
This also continues the trend for New Jersey acting relatively quickly when legalising different gambling verticals, which is one of the reasons why the state has such a competitive edge in the marketplace. This may prove particularly important in the sports betting space, with multiple states having since followed suit to forge an increasingly competitive marketplace.
The Last Word – Are there any Areas of Confusion?
The only potential cloud on the horizon is the ambiguity surrounding the 1961 Wire Act, which initially prohibited the placement of wagers by telephone across state lines.
This was subsequently interpreted to cover all forms of online gambling in the mid-noughties, only for this opinion to be overturned by the Department of Justice (DoJ) back in 2011. However, the DoJ revised its findings once again in January 2019, choosing to once again prohibit any form of gambling across state lines.
This proved to be problematic for states such as NJ, Delaware and Pennsylvania, which had already developed lucrative iGaming betting markets and forged liquidity sharing pacts that breached state lines.
Fortunately, a District Court in New Hampshire has already challenged the ruling, while the state authorities in NJ are also pushing their own legal claim.
Furthermore, Presidential candidate (and favourite) Joe Biden is known to adopt a relatively pro-online gambling stance, so it’s likely that the 2019 opinion will ultimately be reversed.