In early 2013 New Jersey enacted an amendment to the Casino Control Act that authorizes online gaming to be undertaken by Atlantic City casinos. Under the amendment, any game that is permitted to be spread on the casino floor can be offered online to customers within the state. The measure was signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie, who had vetoed a previous version of the same bill, on February 26, 2013.
New Jersey was the third state in the nation to enact comprehensive regulation of all forms of internet gaming, after Nevada and Delaware.
During the lead up to the November 21, 2013 launch of online gambling in New Jersey, the Rational Group, parent company of PokerStars, had been in contract to purchase the Atlantic Club casino from Colony Capital LLC. The company hit several major hurdles, however. First the American Gaming Association filed a brief with the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement opposing Rational Group request for an Interim Casino Authorization, a regulatory approval needed to purchase the Atlantic Club casino. Then Colony exercised a termination provision in the contract in late April, prompting Rational Group to file suit in early May. A judge made a preliminary ruling in favor of Colony Capital; Rational Group appealed and lost that appeal.
As mentioned above, New Jersey’s online gambling industry went live on November 21st, 2013 with five online poker providers, Borgata/Party, Trump Plaza/Betfair, Trump Taj Mahal/Ultimate Poker, and Caesars/888.
In addition to the poker websites, New Jersey operators also launched online casinos, and in addition to the partnerships above the Golden Nugget and the Tropicana launched online casinos without poker rooms.
On September 19th, Ultimate Gaming announced it was leaving the New Jersey market, following the bankruptcy troubles of their partner Trump Taj Mahal.
Brick-and-mortar casino operations are expressly permitted in New Jersey by Article IV, Section VII, paragraph 2(D) of the state constitution, which limits such operations to the confines of Atlantic City. Under the Casino Control Act (N.J.S.A. §5:12-1 et seq.), the Division of Gaming Enforcement establishes the permissible games and their rules. Almost every conceivable variant of poker is a permitted game.
New Jersey laws might not to permit home poker games, however. Title 2A, Section 40-1 of New Jersey Statutes provides that “all wagers… made to depend… upon any gaming by lot or chance, or upon any lot, chance, casualty or unknown or contingent event, shall be unlawful.” This raises the question of whether poker is considered a game of skill in New Jersey. That question has never been ruled upon by any court.
Over the course of 2014 two casinos have closed in New Jersey. In January the Atlantic Club shuttered its doors (and has since been sold to a land developer) and in June Caesars announced it would be shutting down the Showboat Casino in August.