What’s Next for Gambling in New Jersey?
Gambling has a long and storied history in the United States and this is certainly true when it comes to gambling laws in New Jersey. In fact, the homestate of Atlantic City is known as being permissive about gambling and New Jersey is actually one of the least restrictive states in America in terms of legislation surrounding the gambling industry.
On the other hand, complications do exist in the industry and different rules apply depending on the type of sport or betting involved. For instance, dog racing is strictly prohibited but sled dog racing is allowed for the purpose of exhibitions. Also, recent appeals and decisions have somewhat clouded the legality of gambling in New Jersey. For instance, licensed casinos and horse race betting are permitted but just a few years ago, but sports betting was also outlawed across the state.
In this article, we take a look at the history of gambling within the state and what we might expect for the future of this industry in New Jersey.
Early Beginnings for the Gambling Industry
As you may know, there is no federal law to prohibit gambling and each state is required to regulate the gambling industry. For this reason, it’s common for people to have little or no understanding about legal issues surrounding gambling. That is to say, when laws and regulations keep changing, it’s hard to keep up, not to mention understand what type of gambling may or may not be allowed in New Jersey.
For now, gambling in New Jersey is mostly confined to casinos but there is also horse racing, charity gambling, amusement-type games and the lottery. Online gambling was also given the green light in 2013 and just a couple of years ago, another lawsuit completely changed the gambling industry in New Jersey. But more on that in a moment. You see, we’ve got to go much further back to understand the intricacies of gambling in New Jersey…
New Jersey: One of the Most Permissive States in America
It’s true, New Jersey is much more permissive of gamlbing within the state. During the US Civil War and French War in particular, lotteries were common across the state. In fact, these lotteries were used to help pay for various colleges that still operate to this day. However, lotteries were banned in 1844 to the disappointment of those involved.
Horse racing goes back even further and Freehold Raceway (1830) is the oldest horse racing track in the United States. Monmouth Park Racetrack was also opened around this same time but just fifteen years later, parimutuel gambling was banned in the state.
And just before the turn of the century (1897), all gambling was banned in New Jersey. That being said, enforcement was not very consistent and the likes of slot machines and bookmakers continued to operate. What’s more, bingo halls were common and the above mentioned race tracks continued to operate without any interruption.
Twists and Turns for Gambling in New Jersey
Forty years later, racetrack gambling was legalized once again and non-profit organizations were permitted to hold raffles or bingo competitions. Shortly after, amusement games were re-legalized and the New Jersey Lottery was resurrected in the 1970s which made gambling far more accepted among the masses. In 1974, casinos were legalized which made New Jersey one of just two states in America to permit casinos. Unfortunately for many casinos, another law was passed just two years later which confined the operation of such casinos to Atlantic City only.
But that’s just part of the story…
More recently, legislation was passed to permit sports betting in New Jersey. In case you might be asking yourself, this enabled casinos and racetracks to offer gambling on certain college or professional sports. However, this legislation was overturned and various sports bodies including the NBS, NCCA and NFL won a lawsuit in the Supreme Court to prevent sports betting in the state of New Jersey.
Believe it or not, this decision was also overturned just one year later and New Jersey was able to proceed with legalizing sports betting at various race tracks and casinos.
Gambling in New Jersey Today and in the Future
Today, you will find a total of nine casinos in Atlantic City which have an annual turnover in excess of $3 billion. When it comes to online gambling, the state constitution states that any casino gambling must take place on computer servers based in Atlantic City only but these laws were revoked due to unrealistic and complicated repercussions.
But what might this mean exactly?
Well, it just means that casinos are not allowed to advertise in New Jersey but online gambling is now permitted within the state. As part of this agreement, players must be over the age of twenty one and GPS will be used to ensure the individual is based within the State of New Jersey. While the number of games was initially quite small, there is now a variety of online casinos in New Jersey that continue to prosper.
As for the future, state legislators continue to debate the matter of tax revenue. Simply put, these legislators are unable to pin down how they should charge and co-operate with organisations within the gambling industry. As if that’s not enough, there is also talk of allowing these casinos to expand outside of Atlantic City. At the same time, recent studies suggest that enabling these organizations to spread their operations will mean that several casinos in New Jersey are likely to fall to bankruptcy in the years ahead
As four casinos closed in recent years, we are already witnessing a strain within the gambling industry and a need to establish clear principles to support these businesses. However, while many casinos need to up their game, the future of gambling in New Jersey looks a lot more certain than during the US Civil War.
Photo by Gerard Lázaro on Unsplash