Is Sports Betting Legal in New Jersey?

New Jersey is no longer blessed with that many sports teams. They still play home to the NHL’s New Jersey Devils, but the Nets left for Brooklyn a few years back, and the two NFL squads that call the Meadowlands of New Jersey home bear the New York descriptor (Jets and Giants). New Jersey has also suffered in recent years due to the fast and furious decline of Atlanta City. What was once the gambling mecca of the East Coast is now trying to stave off ruin.

New Jersey Sports Betting Law

While New Jersey does have more full-service casinos than every state on the East Coast, it’s sportsbetting laws aren’t necessarily more lenient. Sportsbooks still aren’t allowed in their casinos. People have tried to have this overturned in the past, arguing that Atlantic City is essentially the Las Vegas of the East, but AC’s meteoric devolution hasn’t helped the cause.

The Fall of Atlantic City

Atlanta City was once a blossoming industry. It had everything, even some things Las Vegas could not offer due to its location—like boardwalk ocean views.

But, while there are still casinos that turn healthy nine-figure profits every year, the allure and luster of Atlantic City has started to wear off. Casinos have closed left and right, with many of those shuddered establishments then being auctioned off in bankruptcy court.

This has not boded well for New Jersey’s longstanding attempts to legalize sportsbetting at the domestic—specifically casino—levels. They’re not alone, of course. Other states are trying to push the bill to no avail. But New Jersey at one time would’ve had the strongest case as the second-largest gambling wellspring in the United States. 

Even now, with more clusters of casinos popping up all over the country, Atlantic City’s diminished state cedes size and lavishness to nothing outside Nevada. Casinos along the Mississippi River and Gulf Coast may not give AC a run for its money, but New Jersey has the physical tools and appeal, when handled properly, to function like a clear No. 2 if it makes enough adjustments.

The Rise of Atlantic City(?)

Recognizing the potential for growth, along with what a renaissance would mean for New Jersey’s other gambling-related legislation, some real estate investors are trying to give Atlantic City a rebirth. Defunct casinos like The Revel and Taj Mahal are expected to be given a second life, as are some others. There’s a lot of red tape still to go through, which clues you into why the push and pull of attempting to legalize sportsbetting is so convoluted, but many are hopeful that a few new and reopened properties will rejoin the casino ranks in the coming years.

The key is drawing in people for reasons outside of gambling—ergo, entertainment. Too many states offer other casino-experience options for Atlantic City to reel in interstate patrons with its own gambling halls alone. Opening swankier venues, creating and developing better live shows, adding water and amusement parks within the vicinity—all this would go a long way toward salvaging what’s left of Atlantic City and, ultimately, helping the state be one of the first to succeed in reinventing current sportsbetting laws.

Confusion Over What’s Legal

There is often some confusion attached to what forms of gambling are legal, and which aren’t. We’ll outline everything below, but for now, just know that the restrictions are overblown. New Jersey isn’t the most liberal place, but it’s still above average. Social gambling is allowed. Ditto for poker, though you won’t find poker rooms outside a casino.

The most frequent mixup: Tribal gaming. No tribes have currently erected from-scratch places, but one has purchased an existing casino, which should be the gateway other tribes enter NJ through.

Daily Fantasy Sports are Not Legal…For Now

New Jersey joins nearly 20 other states as locales with proposed bills aimed at legalizing daily fantasy sports. The process has thus far been slow and arduous—yet another form of evidence as to why sportsbetting packages remain rejected and untouched, in addition to why it’s taking so long for a few of Atlantic City’s closed-down casinos to reopen under a rebrand.

New Jersey Gambling Law Overview

Please see below for a more specific breakdown of what betting types are and aren’t allowed in New Jersey at this time.

  • Casino Gambling: Legal
  • Tribal Gambling: Legal
  • Poker: Legal
  • Horse-Race Betting: Legal
  • Dog-Race Betting: Not legal
  • Lottery: Legal
  • Daily Fantasy Betting: Not legal (but there is a pending proposal)
  • Social Gambling: Legal
  • Charitable Gambling: Legal
  • Online Gambling: Not specified

New Jersey Sports Teams

Due to the absence of professional teams in New Jersey, we will split our focus between in-house squads and the most popular professional factions that are located outside state lines.

New Jersey Devils (NHL)

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

The New Jersey Devils were once the toast of the NHL. Between 1988 and 2012, they secured 21 playoff berths and five trips to the Stanley Cup Finals—three of which resulted in titles. Since then, though, they’ve yet to live up to that form. They have missed the postseason through each of the following seasons and continue to hover noticeably below .500 now.

Seton Hall Pirates (College Basketball)

College basketball should be more alive in the tri-state area. New York, and by extension New Jersey, is considered the mecca of basketball—a place NBA players love to play, both in the pros and at storied playground-style courts.

But both states lack college basketball powerhouses. The closest either comes, with St. John’s currently in the toilet, is the Seton Hall Pirates. While nothing technically special, the Pirates have clinched an NCAA Tournament bid in each of the last two years and are represented at the NBA level by alumnus Isaiah Whitehead of the Brooklyn Nets.

New York Giants (NFL)

With all due respect to the New York Jets, the New York Giants—who, again, play at the Meadowlands in New Jersey—have earned far more goodwill than them.

Although the Giants just ended a four-year playoff drought, they have rattled off two Super Bowl victories during the Eli Manning era. Not only that, but they are the only team in the NFL that has taken down the dynastic New England Patriots in the Super Bowl—a feat they’ve accomplished twice without anyone else ever doing it once.

New Jersey’s Biggest Sporting Event of the Year

Some won’t consider this a sport, but it’s a contest, and with all the training participants go through, the Miss America Pageant should absolutely be recognized as such. It was founded in 1921, nearly 100 years ago, and takes place in Atlantic City every September.

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