The History of Gambling in New Jersey

min read
A skyline view of New Jersey City, New Jersey, at night. There’s a bed of water with a purple and orange sky.
BetMGM May 21, 2024, 1:02 PM

New Jersey is renowned for its progressive gambling laws and is considered one of the heavyweights in the global online casino game industry — but there’s no denying it has taken a long time for the Garden State to get where it is today. Read all about the long and storied history of gambling in New Jersey below.

The Early Days

Gambling in New Jersey dates back to the 17th century during the colonial era (and even further back than that, according to some experts). During this time, wealthy Virginian landowners typically climbed the social ladder by betting on horse racing, and there were also lotteries taking place in all 13 colonies, serving as a popular form of entertainment for residents from all walks of life.

Gambling was a widespread pastime until the late 19th century, when it was theoretically banned. That said, despite the new “rules,” enforcement was inconsistent, so many residents continued to play slot machines, participate in bookmaking, and play casino table games in “underground” facilities. This level of gambling even continued throughout the Prohibition era.

The 20th Century

Most experts agree that the “modern era” of gambling dawned in New Jersey during the mid-1970s when voters approved a referendum to legalize casino gambling in Atlantic City. Following the change in New Jersey gambling laws, the first casino, the Resort Casino Hotel, opened in 1978 and set off a massive revolution across this new gambling mecca, transforming it into a world-renowned tourist destination. 

The 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s welcomed plenty more influential casinos across Atlantic City, including the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa (known for having the best casino and bars in New Jersey), which opened on July 2, 2003.

The Present

Over the years, Atlantic City emerged as one of the most important casino-related tourist destinations in the world. Its popularity increased even more when New Jersey became one of the first three states in the U.S. to legalize online casino gambling (alongside Nevada and Delaware) in 2013. Since legalizing online casino games within the state, the blossoming industry has continued to generate additional revenue and provide a regulated environment for online betting for residents and visitors. 

Sports betting in New Jersey was also legalized in 2018 after the Supreme Court overturned a federal ban. Today, New Jersey has some of the least restrictive gambling laws in the U.S., and the gambling industry remains a major contributor to the state’s economy. Atlantic City’s casinos (including MGM casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey) and the Garden State’s online gambling platforms continue to adapt and innovate, cementing the state’s position as a leader in the national and global gambling industry.

Which Online Casino Games Are Legal in New Jersey?

Trying to figure out what’s legal and what’s not regarding online gambling in America can be confusing. Many states, including New Jersey, Delaware, Michigan, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania, allow residents to play all sorts of online casino games, whereas some, like Arizona and Colorado, only allow online sports betting and Daily Fantasy Sports. 

So, where do gamblers currently stand when it comes to online gambling in New Jersey? Here’s a round-up of what’s available to play:

  • Online casinos: You can play online slots, casino table games (like blackjack, roulette, and baccarat), live dealer casino games, and video poker.
  • Online poker: You can participate in cash games, tournaments, and sit-and-goes.
  • Online sports betting: You can bet on professional and collegiate sports, including football, basketball, baseball, boxing, and hockey.
  • Daily Fantasy Sports: You can create fantasy lineups and compete against others for cash prizes.
  • Online lottery: You can purchase lottery tickets and play instant win games online.

It’s important to note that the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) regulates all these activities, and you must be physically located within the state to participate. If you’d like more information, you’ll find a list of legal and licensed online gambling sites (such as BetMGM Casino New Jersey) in New Jersey through the DGE website or other reliable sources.

Tips For Safe Online Gambling in New Jersey

Online gambling is legal in the Garden State, but that doesn’t mean all online casinos are created equal. Follow these tips to ensure your safety when exploring the various games on offer:

  • Only use licensed and regulated sites: Make sure the online casino you choose is licensed and regulated by the New Jersey DGE. This guarantees that the site operates fairly and securely.
  • Check for responsible gambling tools: Any online casino worth registering for will prioritize responsible gambling for its players by offering responsible gambling tools, such as deposit limits, self-exclusion options, and cooling-off periods. These tools come in handy when it comes to managing your gambling habits and staying within your budget.
  • Protect your personal information: The best online casinos use encryption technology (SSL) to protect your personal and financial data. Be cautious about sharing sensitive information, and always create strong passwords.
  • Be aware of your location: Here’s another reminder that you must be physically located within the State of New Jersey to participate in online gambling. The sites use geolocation technology to verify your location.

Play Online Casino Games at BetMGM Casino

Plenty of thrilling online casino games await at the best online casino in New Jersey: BetMGM Casino. Explore hundreds of online slots, live dealer casino games, casino table games, variety games, and much more within a close-knit community of like-minded gamblers. 

Register to join the fun — and don’t forget to boost your first session with a generous welcome casino bonus

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.