USA Slot Machine & Gambling Laws

The ambiguity around legality of online gambling has been a cause of concern for many people in New Jersey. The state has been allowing gambling in brick and mortar casinos for over 3 decades now. However, the state did not have laws that allowed online gambling in any form. The good news is that new laws pertaining to gambling have been introduced in the state, and for the good. Here is more in detail about the laws pertaining to gambling in New Jersey.

Is Online Gambling Legal in New Jersey?

For a long time now, states in the US have been fighting to make online gambling legal in their jurisdictions. Of the handful that have been successful in this venture, New Jersey is one. In February 2013, New Jersey became the third and the largest state in the US to legalize online gambling for its residents[1]. The legislative bill was passed after the state governor Chris Christie approved it, after it was modified to his specifications. The new law that has been passed is expected to bring big changes to the gambling industry in the state.

While this certainly comes as good news for Atlantic City casinos, it comes at a cost. The bill had increased the tax levied on the casinos from 10% to 15%, and there is a 10-year testing and trial period for online betting through the internet. In addition to these, the bill has also increased the annual funding amount for fighting compulsive gambling, from $150,000 to $250,000.

The new bill will allow casinos to offer the games that they offer in their brick and mortar casinos[2] through the internet. This means, only those games that the local casino operators offer can be played for money in the state. At present, Atlantic City has 12 casinos which can offer their games online. Online gaming is the state is likely to get operational only after a period of 9 to 12 months, after the casinos set their systems up and the NJ Casino Control Commission audits and provides licenses to run them, and sets a start date for the operations.

The rules applicable for online gambling via these casinos will be the same that apply to gambling in the brick and mortar casinos. The final rules for online gambling in the state, however, should be approved by New Jersey’s Game Enforcement Division, before they are applied. The bill also allows people from other states to gamble or place bets in the state of New Jersey, providing that it is not restricted by the laws of other states and the federal laws. This, again, will be a call that the regulatory authority has to take.

Gambling in New Jersey – What is Legal?

New Jersey and gambling go a long way back. The many forms of gambling allowed in NJ include the New Jersey lottery, charity betting, off-track betting, horse racing, social gambling and amusement games.

The concept of lotteries existed in the state as far back as the 1800s, when money was raised through them for supporting the soldiers of war and for building educational institutions. Informal horse racing was also prevalent in the area around the 1830s and a proper racetrack, the Monmouth Park Racetrack was opened officially in 1870. Soon afterward, gambling was banned and no form of gambling was legal till 1939.

New Jersey State administrators passed bills to legalize racetrack betting in 1939, charity gambling like bingo and other games in churches were legalized in 1953, and amusement games were legalized in 1959. New Jersey voted in favor of lotteries in 1970, when the New Jersey Lottery was created. The Pick-It lottery initiated by the state lottery was the first ever legal lottery in the US.[3]

In 1974, a bill for legalizing casino gambling was voted against in the state. However, legislators had passed a bill two years later, allowing operation of casinos legally, but restricting it to Atlantic City. Online gambling, which includes playing casino games like slots, blackjack, poker etc. online, was legalized in February 2013.

Despite the repeated lobbying for legalization of sports betting in the state, a US District Court had ruled in favor of Athletic Leagues that filed a lawsuit against the State, and barred the state from issuing any licenses for sports betting activity in its jurisdiction. Governor Christie is in favor of an appeal to the federal courts, in a bid to reverse the unfavorable decision.

Owning a New or Used Slot Machine in New Jersey

In the US, the laws for owning a slot machine for personal use differ from one state to another. New Jersey has been a gambling hub in the US, and is home to 12 huge casinos. However, the state considers possession of a gambling device as illegal, and as a violation of the Section 116 of the New Jersey Casino Control Act, unless the slot machine owned by the person is considered to be antique. Also, the law sanctions possession of used slot game machine for social uses, provided the game is before 1941.