New Jersey Legal Gambling and Poker Laws

New Jersey Legal Gambling Online
Gambling and Poker Laws in New Jersey

New Jersey is a certified poker destination for players not only from the East Coast, but from across the US and around the world.  While it may lack a bit of the glitz of a Las Vegas, New Jersey remains a significant part of the poker universe.  Online poker has also caught on in the Garden State, so it's not surprising that we consistently receive questions from our members in New Jersey concerning how poker works online, the process for signing up and the legal issues involved in online poker.  Those are all questions we'll address here in one place with our Guide to New Jersey and Online Poker.

Online Poker in New Jersey

Best Licensed Online Poker Sites: New Jersey

When you start out with online poker, it's tempting to just sign up at the first room you come across.  After all, who wants to go to all of the trouble of comparing room after room when you just want to play poker? 

That's why we've simplified the process with this list of the top New Jersey online poker sites.  All of the sites on our list receive the highest ratings for operating legally, rewarding players generously and maintaining software that provides a smooth, safe online poker experience:

Most recent updates

2013 has been a staggeringly busy year for online gambling regulation in New Jersey. Not only did the legislature and Governor Chris Christie have an extended debate over the direction and nature of regulation, but they managed to resolve their differences and pass a bill into law within the space of two short months.

The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement is now tasked with developing the nuts and bolts of the regulations that will govern online gambling and online poker in the state. That process is ongoing, but largely shielded from public view.
While regulation was becoming a legislative reality, PokerStars began the process of acquiring an Atlantic City casino in early 2013.

Why would an online poker site want to purchase a struggling brick-and-mortar casino? Because New Jersey's online gambling bill limits license applications to land-based operators, meaning that the casino purchase is the only way for PokerStars to enter the New Jersey online gambling market. Observers expect the license process to be resolved by summer's end, but there's no consensus on PokerStars' chances for approval.

Watch our poker news section for daily updates on regulation and other important topics for US online poker players.

Playing New Jersey Online Poker

Unlike neighboring state New York, poker players in New Jersey aren't restricted from signing up at most online poker rooms.  The rule of thumb for New Jersey online poker players: if a site accepts US players, then you can be pretty confident New Jersey residents will also be allowed to create an account.

Online Poker Legality: New Jersey

Two things we always have to get out of the way before talking about online poker and the law.  The first is that this page does not offer legal advice, and you should not treat it as any sort of substitute for legal advice.  The second is that knowing your state law is always a good idea, so we strongly suggest you bookmark the New Jersey State Statutes online [1].

Our purpose with this section is to bring some of the crucial elements of New Jersey gambling law to your attention.  Hopefully with this quick foundation, you'll have a much easier time digesting state law than you would otherwise have.

  1. Under New Jersey law it's explicitly illegal to make just about any bet or wager: "All wagers, bets or stakes made to depend upon any race or game, or upon any gaming by lot or chance, or upon any lot, chance, casualty or unknown or contingent event, shall be unlawful" (Section 2A:40-1).
  2. The law offers a supplemental (and very standard) definition of gambling: "staking or risking something of value upon the outcome of a contest of chance or a future contingent event not under the actor's control or influence, upon an agreement or understanding that he will receive something of value in the event of a certain outcome" (Section 2C:37-1).
  3. Just like Nevada, the overwhelming focus of gambling law in New Jersey is on the operator, not the player.  Players do not face a specific criminal charge for simply participating in illegal gambling activity, although the line between a player and an operator can begin to blur very quickly.  For example, telling a friend about an illegal poker game or offering to step in as dealer could move you from the "player" column to the "promoting gambling" column under New Jersey law.
  4. "Promoting gambling" (2C:37-2) is a charge with a broad scope.  It includes participating in the "proceeds" of gambling activity as well as conduct that "materially aids any form of gambling activity."  Depending on the size of the illegal gambling operation, punishment can run from a citation to several years in jail.
  5. What constitutes material aid? Section 2C:37-2(a(2)) makes it clear that just about anything could potentially fall under this term, which "includes but is not limited to conduct directed toward the creation or establishment of the particular game, contest, scheme, device or activity involved, toward the acquisition or maintenance of premises, paraphernalia, equipment or apparatus thereof, toward the solicitation or inducement of persons to participate therein, toward the actual conduct of the playing phases thereof, toward the arrangement of any of its financial or recording phases, or toward any other phase of its operation."

Will New Jersey Regulate Online Poker Soon?

The answer to this question is almost certainly yes.  New Jersey has been inching in the direction of regulated online poker for a few years at this point, and we firmly believe that the progress of other states on the matter is exerting real pressure on New Jersey to move forward with a law to regulate poker played online in the near term.  This pressure will become especially acute once Nevada's regulated online poker rooms come online in earnest, likely in late 2013-early 2014.

New Jersey Gambling Facts

Background of Regulated Gambling in New Jersey

Many assume that the story of gambling in New Jersey begins and ends with Atlantic City, but there's a longer tale behind the casinos on the boardwalk, which have only been open since 1978.  Over a century before an Atlantic City casino took its first bet, New Jersey residents were risking their paychecks on horse races at Monmouth Park.  That industry was shut down by the law at the turn of the century, and regulated gambling didn't return in earnest until 1970 when the state approved a lottery.

Current Regulated Gambling Options in New Jersey

Today that lottery sits aside one of the largest collections of commercial casinos found anywhere on the globe.  Atlantic City made it an even dozen in 2012 with the opening of Revel.  Outside of Atlantic City you'll find other regulated gaming activity like pari-mutuel wagering at tracks and OTBs, charitable gambling events and social gambling (as permitted within the law).

Current Regulated Online Gambling Options in New Jersey

Everyone seems to agree that regulated Internet gambling will eventually come to New Jersey.  Putting a firm date on "eventually" has been the trouble to date.  There has been talk of regulating online poker and other forms of gambling since 2010, but a bill has yet to advance to the Governor's desk.  Until "eventually" becomes something a bit closer to the present tense, poker players will have to continue to rely on regulators from other jurisdictions.

New Jersey Online Poker & Gambling News

Much of recent media coverage has focused on the financial woes afflicting the state's casino industry [2], but another story has also been brewing over the course of the last year: New Jersey is taking on what seems to be all comers - professional sports leagues, the BCAA and the federal government - in its bid to legalize sports betting [3].  Both stories are likely to continue to develop in the weeks and months ahead, as will New Jersey's ongoing attempts to regulate online poker.

New Jersey Gambling Research

CityofAtlanticCity.org [4].  The official website of the city provides information about the casinos that drive Atlantic City, along with a detailed picture of the region beyond the casinos.

Division of Gaming Enforcement [5].  Complete set of resources regarding land-based casino gambling in new Jersey.  Financial records, self-exclusion information, game testing and all other relevant information can be found at the DGE's homepage.

GamblingAndTheLaw.com [6].  Site of gambling law expert I Nelson Rose, who frequently writes about New Jersey's push into online gambling and sports betting.

New Jersey's Place in Poker History

While Las Vegas may be the ultimate poker destination, Atlantic City is arguably just as iconic for a certain generation of poker players.  It is, of course, the casinos of Atlantic City - not Vegas - that provided the backdrop for Rounders, for many the definitive modern poker movie.  New Jersey is also the original home of the man many consider to be the absolute best in the game: Phil Ivey [7]

Of course, Ivey now resides in Vegas, so that's a point against New Jersey

Sources & Citations For This Article on New Jersey Online Poker