New Jersey has had a long association with gambling, having legalized casinos in Atlantic City back in 1976. The city became a major tourist destination across the East Coast, offering sea views and gambling for many decades. However, the 2008 financial crash hit the state very hard, with lots of casinos having to shut their doors for good. Tourists stopped coming to Atlantic City as gambling was too risky in a time of financial difficulties.
In the middle of the Atlantic City slump in 2011, New Jersey passed a bill allowing gambling outside of the city limits. Then-governor Chris Christie first vetoed the law, but with the help of a legal counsel from the US Department of Justice and minor amendments to the original legislation, online gambling became allowed in New Jersey in 2013. The first NJ online casinos launched not long after and are still available today.
While this gambling law was originally restricted to online casinos, the state soon made headway in getting sports betting legalized too. In the US, sports betting has been illegal since the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was passed in 1992. This bill was designed to protect sports from corruption, but it was argued that it was unconstitutional.
New Jersey changed its gambling laws in 2012 to start the process of legalizing sports betting throughout the state. However, it wasn’t able to launch sports betting straight away, as the law received opposition from four major sports leagues and the NCAA. They argued that legalizing sports betting would potentially affect the integrity of sports and lead to possible corruption.
This legal battle between the state of New Jersey and major North American sports leagues led to the Supreme Court. Christie v. National Collegiate Athletic Association (later renamed Murphy v. NCAA in honor of New Jersey’s new governor) was heard by the Supreme Court in 2017.
The court concluded in 2018 that PASPA was unconstitutional, meaning that New Jersey could proceed with its planned laws. The first sports bets were placed in New Jersey in August of that year, and it opened the floodgates for legalized sports betting across the country. The lawsuit’s single condition was that bettors are prohibited from betting on college athletics in the state or on any New Jersey college team.
The Growth of Sports Betting
Since the first legal sports bet was placed in NJ in 2018, the US sports betting industry has come a long way. Thirty states have now legalized sports betting, either online, in-person, or a mix of both. New Jersey was one of the first, and it quickly established its regulated sports betting market. The first commercial sportsbooks were quick to launch in NJ, bringing millions in tax revenue to the state.
Since 2018, New Jersey sportsbooks have recorded a handle of hundreds of millions of dollars each month. November 2021 saw its record month of $1.3 billion wagered, and sports bettors are showing no signs of slowing down. That means each month. The state makes several million dollars in tax revenue, which is used to improve local services and give back to the community.