NJ Gambling History
When people think of gambling destinations in the United States, two places come to mind: Las Vegas, Nevada and Atlantic City, New Jersey. Indisputably, these are the two towns you want to be if you have any interest in gambling whatsoever.
While Las Vegas serves the Western part of the country, Atlantic City is home to the Eastern seaboard’s gambling mecca. Even though casinos line the streets of AC today, gambling in the city and in the state as a whole has not always existed like it does nowadays.
The gambling history of New Jersey—like that of many US states—is a turbulent one that is far from straightforward.
The Origins of New Jersey Gambling
If you trace your way through the history books, you will find that New Jersey has long been one of the states that was a bit more liberal than most. Being that many cities and states were founded by devoutly religious people, and those religions to which they were so devout viewed gambling as a vice, gambling never had an easy go in this country.
In New Jersey, the story has always been a bit different as lotteries made an appearance even before the state officially came to be. In fact, New Jersey was one of the only US territories with an extensive lottery system for an extended period of time. In the early 1840’s, however, that changed as the state moved to outlaw the lottery. It wasn’t until the final decade of the 19th century when gambling finally began to gain a foothold once more, although this foothold cannot exactly be described as a legal one.
For a period of time from about 1890 until the outbreak of World War II, any and all forms of gambling were illegal in the state of New Jersey. With that being said, the authorities in charge of enforcing the gambling ban were lax, to say the least. As such, all sorts of gambling could be found throughout the state. Whether it was a bingo night at a church, slot machines at a bar, or a rogue bookie, gambling was plentiful.
This continued to be the case for some time, until a change to the state’s law was enacted in the mid-1970’s. In 1974, New Jersey voters shot down a measure that would allow for casinos to be established all throughout the state, but only two years later passed a referendum that made it legal for casinos to exist in one, single place: Atlantic City. The first casino opened its doors in 1978 and the rest is, as they say, history.
If we are being honest, however, the recent history of gambling in New Jersey (Atlantic City) is nothing short of depressing. The city is struggling financially and casinos are closing their doors annually. The state’s government is making moves to try and change this, but so far little progress has been made.
The Dawn of New Jersey Online Casinos
In light of the state’s financial troubles, New Jersey voted in 2011 to decide whether or not an intrastate network of online casinos would be established. As you probably could have guessed from reading this, the proposed legislation was approved and quickly signed into law. There were many requirements in order for an online casino to exist, and the first operators were always going to be land-based casinos who supported an online extension of their brick and mortar operations.
A major part of the reason land-based, Atlantic City casinos were behind the move to online operations was due to the fact that state law mandated that any and all gambling in New Jersey take place in Atlantic City. Because of this, the servers supporting the newly-established online casino network also had to be located in AC. While this is so, the online gambling bill that was signed into law made it possible for anyone, in any part of the state to gamble online so long as they were at least 21 years of age.
This sounds like the end of a great story, but really it is just the beginning. Shortly after New Jersey voters approved the establishment of an intrastate network of online casinos, all sorts of legal issues arose. First was the issue of gambling only being able to take place in Atlantic City. Under the new law, a person could place a wager anywhere in the state, thus creating a situation where gambling is taking place outside the jurisdiction of Atlantic City. After a lot of back and forth, and via the opinion of a Constitutional scholar from a New Jersey university, it was established that the new online casino network was legal.
The reason for this was due to the fact that no matter where a wager is placed, it is only approved by the server, which exist in Atlantic City. So, even if you placed a wager online in Pattison, the wager would not go into effect until it is run through an Atlantic City server. This is all very confusing, but at the end of the day gamblers were satisfied with the outcome, even if the state’s governor did try to shoot the law down.
Nowadays, the online casino industry in the state is creating millions of dollars in tax revenue annually, and growing all the time. Slowly but surely, real money online gambling in New Jersey is taking the place of Atlantic City. Not only are there more options, the flexibility of being able to gamble from the comfort of your own home is something that attracts people who would not consider traveling to an Atlantic City casino. The lead of New Jersey has made waves across the country and many other states are pondering their own plans for their own, intrastate network of online casinos.