The History of Gambling in New Jersey

Gambling has a long and storied history in the United States and when most people think of those two things in combination the obvious place that comes to mind is Las Vegas. Whilst Sin City is undoubtedly the jewel in America’s gambling crown it has played nowhere near as significant a role in modern American gambling than New Jersey.

The Garden State not only plays host to Las Vegas’ biggest rival in Atlantic City but it is seen by some as the birthplace of a movement that resulted in the legalisation of online sports betting and online casinos across the country.

In this article we take a closer look at the history of gambling in New Jersey, read on for a gambling history lesson.

1976: A Pivotal Moment

People have gambled in New Jersey since the first settlers arrived from Europe and let’s face it, some form of gambling probably existed prior to that as well – gambling evidence has been found in other areas of the globe dating back to the Palaeolithic period.

Legally though for most of the 20th century casino gambling in New Jersey was prohibited with those looking for their large-scaled casino fix needed to navigate themselves to the Nevada desert to Las Vegas.

Then in 1974 the public in New Jersey were asked to vote on whether casino gambling in various municipalities throughout the state could be legalised. 60% of the public voted against the idea with the majority citing concerns regarding organised crime’s involvement in the casino trade.

Two years later however those fears were allayed when 56% of voters approved a bill to legalise casino gambling not state wide, but rather just in Atlantic City as a “unique tool of urban redevelopment”.

Initially though the decision seemed to do more harm than good with the creation of casinos seemingly doing nothing for the local economy and only serving to worsen levels of social deprivation amongst the largely working class residents of the city.

Then in the 1980s future US President Donald Trump embarked on a PR campaign to bring more people to Atlantic City and his casinos in particular. As part of this effort a number of high profile boxing bouts – several involving Mike Tyson – were brought to the city.

This seemed to do the trick with Atlantic City soon becoming a hub for both domestic and international tourism.

(Mike Tyson sparking out Michael Spinks in Atlantic City.)

2013: Online Trendsetters

Online gambling has existed almost as long as the internet itself but it has only been in recent years that it has risen to prominence in the United States. Whilst the rest of the world were busy enjoying legalised and well regulated online gambling, lawmakers here in the US took a dim view to it.

That was until 2013 when the state of New Jersey made headlines by becoming the first American state to legalise online gambling. The move which was rubberstamped by then Governor Chris Christie allowed Atlantic City based casinos to move online and cater to the gambling needs of everyone in the state. There are now many online casinos accessible in New Jersey offering a range of games.

The move set into motion a chain of events in which a number of American states have joined NJ in legalising online gambling. The apocalyptic consequences cited by critics ahead of legalisation never materialising and the economic benefits speaking for themselves seemed to be serious motivators for other states.

Free Selective Focus Photography of Person Holding Turned on Smartphone Stock Photo

(New Jersey brought casino gambling to smartphones back in 2013.)

2018: PASPA to Now

In 2018 the Supreme Court took the decision to strike down PASPA and such issued the green light to individual states allowing them to legalise sports betting. Giving everything you’ve read so far, what do you think New Jersey decided to do off the back of that decision? Legalise sports betting!

Which means that currently in New Jersey you can travel to Atlantic City and experience the glitz and glamour of serious heavy hitters in the casino world. Or you can sit on your mobile phone at home, on the bus or on the train and spin the virtual slot machine reels and compete in online poker tournaments.

Once you’ve done that you can open up your phone and place $10 on the New York Knicks to win the NBA playoffs, or you could just cut to the chase and set fire to your ten dollar bill…

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