NJ Online Sports Betting

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If you’ve been paying attention to the news in recent years, you’ve probably heard that New Jersey has sports betting. That’s putting it mildly. In fact, in less than a decade, New Jersey has risen to become the US capital of sports betting – even beyond Nevada.

Much of the success stems from embracing online sports betting in NJ. According to recent revenue reports, as many as 92.5% of sports bets placed in New Jersey are placed online.

If you’re reading this page, you already have quite a few questions on your mind. For instance, what are the best sportsbooks in NJ? How do you get up and running? What else do you need to know about betting on sports in New Jersey?

You’re in luck! We have the answers to those questions and many more right here in our complete guide. Read on for all the latest about NJ sports betting.

Best NJ Sports Betting Sites

Rank
Sportsbook
Bonus
Features
Play
1
UP TO $1,050 FREE
New User Bonus. T&Cs Apply.
Special for Bets on NFL, NBA, CFB & CBB
Bet $1 & Win $100
$50 Free Bet on Deposit
Up to $1,000 Deposit Bonus
To Claim: Click Play Now
3
$1,001
First Bet Match
Up To $1,001 First Bet Match
Opt In for a Free NBA Jersey
Weekly Betting Promos
Use Promo Code: LEGALRF
4
$250 Bonus
100% Match On First Deposit
Up To $250 Bonus On Deposit
ONLY 1x Play Through!
Use Affiliate Code: PLAY250
6
2 Risk Free bets 
 up to $2,000
Get 2 Risk-Free Bets Up to $2,000
Use Promo Code: BETBONUS
7
$600
Risk Free Bet
Exclusive Offer
$600 Risk Free Bet
Use Bonus Code: BETBONUS

What Sports You Can Bet On In New Jersey

Is online sports betting legal in NJ?

Yes. Online sports betting is legal in New Jersey. You can choose from more than two dozen sportsbooks when you decide you want to place a bet. However, before you do, make sure to check this page for any bonuses – they can help to bump your bottom line.

In fact, online sports betting has been legal in the Garden State since 2018. On the heels of the momentous Supreme Court decision to strike down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), both retail and online sports betting companies moved quickly to get underway in New Jersey. DraftKings Sportsbook was the first sportsbook app to launch, but it did not hold its de facto monopoly for very long. Nowadays, every major name in sports betting, along with some lesser-known ones, has a sportsbook app in New Jersey.

You are more than welcome to place a sports bet from anywhere in New Jersey. There are no restrictions on in-person registration or banking at all. Simply log on, deposit, and get to it.

NJ online sports betting: Which app is best?

NJ sportsbook appsThe good news is that there are plenty of options to consider. The bad news is that it can be time-consuming to zero in on the ones that work best for you. Relax, we’ve got you covered. Here’s a look at the top online sports betting sites in NJ for December 2021.

DraftKings

The first site to market in the state, DraftKings has emerged as one of the market leaders. It’s easy to see why. There’s a slick and user-friendly platform that’s available both online and via the app. Among the top offerings at DraftKings is its live betting feature, which has been a big area of focus for the company.

BetMGM

A well-known brand name in both the physical and online casino space, BetMGM has set its sights on the world of sports betting, as well. So far, so good as this is a solid online and mobile offering. Among the biggest highlights is an expansive list of offerings in the niche sports markets.

PointsBet

PointsBet, based in Australia, made its first entry into the US in New Jersey in January 2019. The company has since made a lot of headway in other markets, with more to come. PointsBet is focused on bettors and efficient lines. One of its most innovative features is PointsBetting, a new and intriguing way to get in on the action.

FanDuel

The top operator in the state in terms of betting volume, FanDuel has become a go-to spot for scores of bettors across the Garden State. The website and app are both visually appealing and easy to use. FanDuel has become an innovator in numerous areas and has been gaining a lot of traction with single-game parlays.

SugarHouse

 Part of the Rush Street family, PlaySugarHouse was one of the first sites to launch in NJ. The layout on the website and app makes it a breeze to navigate and find what you’re looking for quickly. SugarHouse rewards players for their loyalty with chances to earn rewards and points just for playing.

Unibet

A major player on the international scene, Unibet continues to work toward building up its presence here in the states. The website and app are on the basic side, but all of the top markets and bet types are represented. Unibet also features live betting prominently and places the current offerings front and center.

Caesars

The legendary casino brand is also making its mark in sports betting. The Caesars Sportsbook isn’t filled with tons of bells and whistles, but navigation and getting down to business is really easy. Users can also join up or link their existing Caesars Rewards accounts to receive points while betting.

FOX Bet

Featured prominently on FOX Sports programming, FOX Bet is much more than a sportsbook with a recognizable name. The platform is really solid, and there are always lots of ongoing promotions to take advantage of. While somewhat geared toward newer bettors, experienced folks will find lots to love, as well.

  • Review: FOX Bet Sportsbook NJ
  • Bonus: $500 bonus
  • Note: You must opt-in on the promotions page at FOX Bet to claim the risk-free bet. Click on “FIRST BET ON US RISK FREE” and register your name/account. Then click “View challenges” and hit opt-in button to claim within 7 days. Make sure you place your first bet within a week to qualify.)

Golden Nugget

A top casino player in NJ, Golden Nugget also offers up a sportsbook. It’s a solid offering overall with a wide range of markets and all of the bet types you need. There’s also a rewards program for users to join, as well as a dedicated section for current promotions.

The vast majority of online sports betting sites in New Jersey have apps available for iOS and Android. Once you create an account via our exclusive links, you can download the app directly from the sportsbook site and be up and running in minutes. Additionally, many of the web platforms are optimized to work on mobile browsers, as well.

List of all sports betting apps in New Jersey

The NJ sportsbook market has become quite a crowded place. Here’s the complete list of sportsbooks along with the launch dates for each.

Online SportsbookLand-Based AffiliateSports Betting PartnersLaunch Date
DraftKings SportsbookResorts ACSBTech/KambiAug. 6, 2018
BetMGM SportsbookBorgata ACIGTAug. 22, 2018
SugarHouse SportsbookMonmouth ParkKambiAug. 23, 2018
FanDuel SportsbookMeadowlandsBetfair/IGT/GANSep. 1, 2018
Caesars SportsbookHarrah's, Bally's, Caesars ACScientific GamesSep. 6, 2018
888 SportsbookCaesars AC888Sep. 10, 2018
Fox Bet SportsbookResorts ACResortsSept. 13, 2018
PointsBet SportsbookMeadowlandsN/ADec. 11, 2018
Hard Rock SportsbookHard Rock ACGiGJan. 26, 2019
Resorts SportsbookResorts ACSBTechJan. 31, 2019
Golden Nugget SportsbookGolden NuggetSBTech/Scientific GamesFeb. 19, 2019
Bet365 SportsbookHard Rock ACBet365Aug. 30, 2019
Unibet SportsbookHard Rock ACKambiSept. 10, 2019
Borgata SportsBorgata ACGVC/RoarMay 14, 2019
theScoreMonmouth ParkBet.WorksSept. 3, 2019
Yahoo SportsbookBorgata ACGVC/RoarNov. 14, 2019
BetAmericaGolden NuggetSBTechFeb. 2, 2019
Wynn SportsbookCaesarsGPGS/Scientific GamesAug. 4, 2020
PlayUpFreeholdNAMarch 2021

Pros and cons of betting on an app

The dream of having access to a legal sportsbook at any time is now a reality. Sports betting apps open the door to betting whenever and wherever you want within state lines. Here are some things to consider when deciding if sportsbook apps are for you.

Pros

  • Convenience: Have a legal sportsbook at your fingertips.
  • Timing: You can stay on top of the latest odds at any time.
  • Usability: Operators invest heavily in tech, and it shows in their offerings.

Cons

  • Geolocation: Your location has to be verified before you can place bets.
  • Access: You can manage your account outside of state lines, but no betting.
  • Space: Apps can take up real estate on your device.

How to sign up for a NJ sports betting account

It’s really easy to get started with betting on sports. For starters, you need to pick a place to play. Our recommended operators are the best place to start. They’re all legal and check off the right boxes, and you’ll get some awesome bonus offers just for signing up.

To gain access, just click through on our exclusive links to begin the process. After entering a few simple details and checking off some boxes, your new account will be created right away. Next, take the time to download the app for your device from the sportsbook site.

After you log in on mobile, you’ll be good to go in both areas. In order to place bets, the NJ sportsbook has to verify that you are in New Jersey. To do so, it uses what’s known as geolocation tracking.

It’s a piece of software that runs in the background to verify that you are where you say you are. If there are any issues verifying your location, you won’t be able to place bets. When out of state, you can still manage your account and browse around.

One final note to keep in mind: In order to create an account and play, users must be 21 or older. Your information will be verified as part of the sign-up process, and documentation may be required if there are any issues doing that.

NJ sportsbook bonus offers, free bets and bonus codes

The New Jersey sports betting market is a competitive one. As a result, operators aren’t shy about dishing out offers for new users to take advantage of. Here’s a look at the most common ones you’ll see and how they work.

  • Free bets: Some books will give users free funds to play with on-site just for signing up. Any winnings you obtain from the free bets are yours to keep.
  • Deposit match: This is a very common offer in which the operator will match your first deposit up to a certain amount. The amount of the match will vary, but it can sometimes be up to 100% at certain amounts.
  • Risk-free bets: After you create an account and make a deposit, there are books that allow you to place your first bet in risk-free fashion. If you lose, the sportsbook will refund the bet amount for you to use again on the site.

In addition, keep an eye out for extra incentives from casino operators that also offer sports betting. For example, users on Caesars Sportsbook are able to join the in-house rewards program and earn points just for wagering.

NJ sportsbooks might require a bonus code to claim the offer. You can find the latest NJ sportsbook promo codes right here on PlayUSA. Check out the table above, or read any of our reviews.

How to deposit and withdraw funds

Moving funds in and out of your sports betting account is a simple process. The dedicated cashier function at online books and apps is user-friendly. Deposits and withdrawals are quick and painless to complete. Here are the most common options available.

  • Credit and debit cards: Visa and Mastercard are standard options, while some sites may accept American Express and Discover.
  • Bank transfers: ACH or e-check from your linked bank account.
  • Electronic wallets: PayPal is the most popular option here, but Neteller and Skrill are available at some books.
  • Prepaid cards: A branded prepaid card works for deposits.
  • PayNearMe: This is basically a wire transfer that you can complete with a visit to your local 7-Eleven.
  • Cash at cage: Some operators have deals in place with casino operators to process transactions with on-site tellers.
  • Check or money order: You can fund your account the old-fashioned way, but be aware that it’ll take extra time to process.

In terms of simplicity, PayPal is a great option. You can set your account to be linked to your bank or card. Deposits and withdrawals are processed quickly, and tracking your activity is a breeze.

Please note that not all methods will be available at each operator, but each will generally offer a solid assortment. Also, consult the book you are playing on for specifics on what can be used for deposits or withdrawals, as not all methods are available in both cases.

How to bet on sports in New Jersey

You can now bet on a whole host of sports legally and safely online in New Jersey. Additionally, there are plenty of wagering options for each item on the menu. Here’s a quick look at some of the main bet types.

  • Moneyline: This is one of the easiest bets to understand. You simply have to choose the winner from two options: the favorites, designated by negative odds, or the underdog, which has positive odds.
  • Point spread: The spread is basically an estimated margin of victory that’s set by oddsmakers. You can choose the favorite minus the points or the underdog plus the number. The side you pick has to cover the spread to be a winner.
  • Totals: This wager is all about the total points scored in the game. Sportsbooks set an estimated number for bettors, who then get to decide if they expect the total points to go over or under that amount.
  • Props: A prop is an additional wagering option on individual games and events. Many of them will revolve around specific player performances, such as whether a QB will throw for a certain number of TDs.
  • Live betting: These are wagers that can be placed in real time as contests play out. Things move fast here as offerings will be based on what’s happening. You’ll find things like updated moneyline odds and projections for what happens next.
  • Futures: These bets revolve around outcomes that won’t be known until a later date, such as the winner of the next World Series. Odds for futures come out in the offseason with the markets staying active year-round.
  • Parlays: These are wagers in which you include multiple outcomes on a single ticket. If they all hit, you can make a fantastic return, but there’s a good deal of risk involved, as the chances decrease with each choice added.
  • Teasers and pleasers: For these bet types, bettors can move the spread in one direction or the other on two or more bets. The odds and potential returns will be based on the direction that the spread moves.

In terms of markets, you’ll find plenty of sports available, ranging from the most popular all the way down to those with much smaller followings. Here’s a look at what to expect from the biggest betting markets.

NFL betting in NJ

The most popular sport on the betting menu is well-represented here in New Jersey. MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford is the home stadium for both the New York Giants and New York Jets. Due to the proximity to Pennsylvania, there’s also quite a fanbase for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Regardless of which teams are set to square off, you’ll have plenty of options to explore. All of the main bet types are popular for the NFL, as are props and live betting. The NFL futures market is also one of the most active at online sportsbooks.

NBA betting in NJ

The Brooklyn Nets once made their home in NJ and still have a good following in the state, as do the nearby New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers. Betting on NBA games are very popular at sportsbooks and attract lots of betting action.

Beyond the game outcomes, props and live betting continue to grow in popularity. For the former, you can bet on options such as which player will be the leading scorer. Live betting lets you drill down even deeper with wagers on quarters, halves and more.

MLB betting in NJ

Baseball betting takes center stage from the spring to the fall. On the popularity front, it’s the New York Yankees, New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies that have the biggest followings here.

Standard game bets bring plenty of folks to the window, as do props, futures and live betting. One segment that has been really exploding as of late is wagering on smaller snippets of the game, such as the first five innings.

NHL betting in NJ  

The New Jersey Devils are the lone home team that is officially the Garden State’s own. They’re a top attraction, but there are also loyal and passionate followings for the New York Rangers, New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers.

Live betting has been really taking off with the NHL, with bets like what the outcome of the next power play will be. There’s also plenty of interest in the main bet types, various props and futures for things like the next Stanley Cup winner.

Other popular sports you can bet on in NJ

The big four pro sports are the top needle movers, but there’s much more to consider. For additional team-based sports, college football, college basketball and soccer attract a great deal of attention and betting interest, as well.

Over on the individual side, the biggest drivers are golf, tennis, UFC, NASCAR and boxing. Beyond that, there are plenty of niche sports to explore, including cricket and table tennis. In short, you have plenty of sports betting options to consider here in NJ.

How legal New Jersey sports betting works

To place bets in New Jersey, you must be 21 years or older and be physically located in the state while doing so. You can bet on a whole range of sports and choose from numerous bet types, but there are some restrictions to consider.

  • Wagering on in-state college teams is prohibited.
  • No betting on collegiate athletic events taking place in NJ.
  • Wagering on high school sports is not allowed.
  • You can’t bet on elections.

Election betting is frowned on across the US, so this isn’t just a New Jersey-specific restriction. Some operators have offered up markets for esports and the Academy Awards, so entertainment-style betting isn’t totally on the outs.

The restrictions on college sports are the main ones to take note of. You won’t be able to bet on local programs such as Rutgers or Seton Hall. If there’s a big college event being hosted in the state, you also won’t be able to wager on that.

However, there has been some movement to reverse this. In November 2021, New Jersey residents will vote on whether to change the current ruling to legally allow college sports wagering.

League partnerships with New Jersey sportsbooks

Sports betting continues to go mainstream. The days of leagues keeping their distance are no more. In fact, each of the major leagues has inked partnership deals with leading sportsbook operators.  

  • NFL: Caesars
  • NBA: BetMGM, FanDuel, FOX Bet, Caesars
  • MLB: BetMGM, DraftKings, FanDuel, FOX Bet
  • NHL: BetMGM, FanDuel, Betway

Deals have also been struck on the team level. Here’s a look at who some of the nearby teams have hooked up with so far.

  • during a preseason game on August 26, 2017 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New JerseyNew York Jets: BetMGM, 888
  • New York Giants: DraftKings
  • New York Knicks: DraftKings
  • New York Rangers: DraftKings
  • New Jersey Devils: Caesars, FanDuel
  • Philadelphia 76ers: Caesars, FOX Bet
  • Philadelphia Eagles: DraftKings, FOX Bet, Unibet
  • Philadelphia Flyers: BetRivers

When deals are signed, they typically revolve around advertising and branding. In some cases, there are even dedicated spaces in arenas that bear the signage of the partner sportsbooks.

Where can I bet on sports in NJ?

If you’re looking to experience sports betting in person, you have a number of options to explore across the Garden State. There’s the popular FanDuel Sportsbook up north, a pair of options in the central part of the state, and a plethora of books down in Atlantic City. Here’s what you need to know about each option.

*Note: Hours of operation may vary 

FanDuel Sportsbook at the Meadowlands

  • Address: 1 Racetrack Drive, East Rutherford, NJ
  • Phone: 877-689-0662
  • Hours: M-F: 10 a.m. – midnight; Sa: 10 a.m. – 2 a.m.; Su: 10 a.m. – midnight.
  • Online partners: FanDuel, PointsBet

The FanDuel Sportsbook features both teller and kiosk service to handle your wagering needs. There’s a huge video wall, dozens of TVs to catch the games, comfortable seating, and food and beverage service.

Caesars at Monmouth Park

  • Address: 175 Oceanport Ave., Oceanport, NJ
  • Phone: 732-222-5100
  • Hours: M-Th: 10 a.m. – midnight; F: 10 a.m. – 1 a.m.; Sa: 9 a.m. – 1 a.m.; Su: 9 a.m. – midnight
  • Online partners: CaesarsSportsbook, SugarHouse, The Score

Inside of the Monmouth Park racetrack, located close to the Jersey Shore, you’ll find a Caesars Sportsbook. There’s full food and beverage service, tellers and kiosks, plenty of screens, and live racing action on select dates in the spring and summer.

Bet MGM Sportsbook at Borgata

  • Address: 1 Borgata Way, Atlantic City, NJ
  • Phone: 609-317-7249
  • Hours: M-F: noon – 10 p.m.; Sa/Su: 9 a.m. – 10 p.m.
  • Online partners: Borgata, BetMGM

A sprawling 8,000-square-foot space right in the heart of the action at Borgata, the BetMGM Sportsbook includes a 40-foot video wall among its many amenities. There’s a full bar with more than 20 craft beers and food service on site.

The Sportsbook at Golden Nugget

  • Address: 600 Huron Ave., Atlantic City, NJ
  • Phone: 609-441-2000
  • Hours: M-F: 3 p.m. – 11 p.m.; Sa/Su: 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.
  • Online partners: Golden Nugget, BetAmerica

One of three Atlantic City casinos located off the boardwalk, the Golden Nugget is a popular destination as it is. The sportsbook is one of the new feature attractions, with comfortable seating, plenty of screens, and teller and kiosk service.

Caesars at Harrah’s

  • Address: 777 Harrah’s Blvd., Atlantic City, NJ
  • Phone: 609-441-5000
  • Hours: M-Th: 10 a.m. – midnight; F: 10 a.m. – 1 a.m.; Sa: 9 a.m. – 1 a.m.; Su: 9 a.m. – midnight
  • Online partners: Caesars

The Caesars Sportsbook at Harrah’s is nearly 4,000 square feet. It has great seating options, plenty of screens for viewing and food service courtesy of AC Burger Co. Those looking for something extra can reserve one of two fan caves.

Ocean Casino Resort

  • Address: 500 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, NJ
  • Phone: 866-506-2326
  • Hours: M-Th: 10 a.m. – midnight; F: 10 a.m. – 1 a.m.; Sa: 9 a.m. – 1 a.m.; Su: 9 a.m. – midnight
  • Online partners: Ocean Casino, Caesars, Tipico

 Located in the heart of the casino floor at Ocean Resort is the sportsbook. You’ll find lots of screens, a dedicated bar, and teller and kiosk service. The venue has served as home base for some sports betting broadcasts in the past.

Hard Rock Sportsbook

  • Address: 1000 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, NJ
  • Phone: 609-449-1000
  • Hours: M-Th: 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.; F: 11 a.m. – midnight; Sa: 10 a.m. – midnight; Su: 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.
  • Online partners: Hard Rock, Bet365, Unibet

At the back of the casino floor at Hard Rock Atlantic City, you’ll find a sportsbook with over 40 screens for your viewing pleasure. There’s comfortable seating to kick back with a cocktail, teller and kiosk service, and plenty of food options throughout the property.

DraftKings Sportsbook at Resorts

  • Address: 1133 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, NJ
  • Phone: 800-334-6378
  • Hours: M-F: 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.; Sa/Su: 9:30 a.m. – 11 p.m.
  • Online partners: DraftKings, FOX Bet, Resorts

After you step into Resorts Casino from the boardwalk, you’ll find the DraftKings Sportsbook. There’s an on-site bar and plenty of seating, and the venue is just steps away from other quality food and beverage offerings at the property.

Caesars Sportsbook at Wild Wild West

  • Address: 2100 Pacific Ave., Atlantic City, NJ
  • Phone: 609-340-2000
  • Hours: M-Th: 10 a.m. – midnight; F: 10 a.m. – 1 a.m.; Sa: 9 a.m. – 1 a.m.; Su: 9 a.m. – midnight
  • Online partners: Caesars, 888, Wynn

This venue is located at the Wild Wild West inside of Bally’s, which is directly connected to Caesars. It’s a sprawling space with fan caves available for reservation. Bally’s was recently sold to Twin Rivers, but the sportsbook will remain a part of Caesars.

Caesars Sportsbook at Tropicana

  • Address: 2831 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, NJ
  • Phone: 702-786-1335
  • Hours: M-Th: 10 a.m. – midnight; Fr: 10 a.m. – 1 a.m.; Sa: 9 a.m. – 1 a.m.; Su: 9 a.m. – midnight
  • Online partners: Caesars

You’ll find another Caesars Sportsbook at the Tropicana, a venue that’s known for its nightlife options. The book is located right on the casino floor and features lots of seating and viewing options, as well as teller and kiosk service.

Parx Sportsbook at Freehold

  • Address: 130 Park Ave., Freehold Township, NJ
  • Phone: 732-462-3800
  • Hours: Seven days: Noon – 8 p.m.
  • Online partners: Parx

The newest addition to the NJ retail sports betting lineup is the Parx Sportsbook. Located at Freehold Raceway, which features live harness racing on select dates, there’s teller and kiosk service with food and beverage offerings available.

History of NJ sports betting

For many years, gambling in the United States belonged to Nevada. The Silver State was the only location in the US with legal casinos and sportsbooks. It was the first state to legalize sports betting when it did so in 1949, and remained the sole venue for wagering on athletic events for decades.

The first clue that New Jersey had gambling plans of its own came in 1978. In that year, the very first legal casinos in the US outside of Nevada opened in Atlantic City. The ribbon-cuttings were nothing short of a coup for the state, since gamblers in the eastern portion of the country now had a far shorter amount of travel to negotiate.

However, sports betting remained the unequivocal province of Nevada, despite the Garden State’s expansion. As it turned out, Nevada’s claim over sports betting would get an immense boost in 1992. The US government issued the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, or PASPA, which rendered sports betting generally illegal on a federal level. States that already had sports betting, however, were granted exceptions through a grandfather clause in PASPA. Although a few other states had limited sports betting games, no other location benefitted more from PASPA than Nevada.

Reception for the new law was far from positive across the board. Many lawmakers expressed concerns about the implications of the statute, including its unabashed preference granted to Nevada. Notably, New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg railed against PASPA, fearing the harm it would do to the Atlantic City casino industry. Ironically, one of the chief supporters of PASPA was New Jersey’s other senator, Bill Bradley. In fact, PASPA is sometimes called the “Bradley Bill.”

The discontent about the bill’s effects would never quite go away, however, inside the New Jersey legislature. After nearly two decades of living under PASPA, the stage was set for a legislative revolt.

2011

New Jersey Public Question 1, also known as the Sports Betting Amendment, is inserted onto the November ballot. The measure is a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment that poses the question about sports betting. Specifically, lawmakers want to know if voters are in favor of authorizing their state politicians to legalize and regulate sports betting. The measure passes overwhelmingly, with nearly two-thirds of voters answering in the affirmative.

Mere days after the vote, State Sens. Ray Lesniak and Jeff Van Drew introduce the Sports Wagering Act to allow sports betting to proceed at New Jersey casinos and racetracks. The bill is a major portion of Lesniak’s plan to challenge PASPA in the courts, which had been brewing since 2009 (at least).

2012

Less than two months after its introduction, the Sports Wagering Act becomes New Jersey law from its passage in both chambers of the New Jersey legislature and a signature from Gov. Chris Christie. Almost immediately after the law is enacted, the NCAA and the four major professional sports leagues file suit against Christie to prevent him from enforcing the law. Attorneys for the leagues allege that the New Jersey law violates PASPA.

In turn, the defendants in the action argue that PASPA itself is unconstitutional. Their argument centers around the anti-commandeering clause found in the US Constitution’s Tenth Amendment. The Tenth Amendment essentially says that any powers not explicitly granted to the federal government remain with the states. From that language, it follows that the federal government is extremely limited in what it can or cannot command the states to do.

Unfortunately for folks in the Garden State, the courts agree with the leagues. US District Court Judge Michael Shipp rules that the law does, indeed, violate PASPA and is not permitted. Shipp’s verdict is later affirmed by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. At that point, the Sports Wagering Act was a dead issue, and sports betting was no closer in New Jersey.

2014

However, neither Christie nor New Jersey lawmakers take their judicial defeat lying down. They begin to examine exactly how they could respond. They quickly determine that one major problem is the structure of the defunct law. The language of the statute means that the state itself is granting permission to the citizens to act in conflict to the governing federal law.

So, Christie’s legal team and lawmakers decide to go about it the other direction. Lesniak’s new version of the Sports Wagering Act merely removes the sports betting prohibition from New Jersey’s constitution. The bill passes into law merely eight days after its proposal. Instead of authorizing the activity affirmatively, New Jersey now has no duty to shut it down under its own laws.

Predictably, the NCAA and its professional pals immediately file suit again. The lawsuit begins a legal battle that will last four years and require Christie’s successor, Phil Murphy, to carry on the torch.

2017

As the NCAA et al lawsuit makes its way through the levels of federal court, things seem to be proceeding as before. The US District Court once again finds in favor of the leagues and declares the New Jersey Sports Wagering Act to be in violation of PASPA. New Jersey’s appeal to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals also falls upon deaf ears, as the Third Circuit does not overrule the lower court’s decision.

Things look bleak. The first Sports Wagering Act had met a similar fate and hit a brick wall when the Supreme Court declined to hear the case. Now, it seems as though this second iteration is poised to have the same trajectory. However, somewhat shockingly, the highest court agrees to hear and issue a ruling for this second time around.

Oral arguments take place in Washington in December. Amazingly, court observers find that the Supreme Court seems far more sympathetic to New Jersey’s arguments than either of the two lower courts. Attorneys for the plaintiffs find themselves absorbing pointed questions from several justices, and the sentiment seems to be that the high court might actually label the law as commandeering. The arguments close, and the justices plan to issue their ruling in 2018.

2018

The 14th day of May is a red-letter day for the state of New Jersey. On that glorious morning, the US Supreme Court rules that PASPA does, indeed, violate the US Constitution. PASPA is struck down in its entirety. Sports betting is now a decision relegated to each state’s lawmakers.

New Jersey, the driving force behind this legal saga, wastes little time. The first sportsbooks open their doors a month afterwards. Gov. Phil Murphy, who took up the fight after his election in 2017, casts the first wagers at Monmouth Park – two futures bets on Germany to win the World Cup and the New Jersey Devils to win the Stanley Cup.

Online sports betting launches in August. DraftKings Sportsbook is the first sports betting app to offer service in the US outside of Nevada. The launch from the DFS titan also heralds a revolution in the way that Americans bet on sports. Two features – live betting and the Cash Out option – become standard for most major sportsbooks and change the way that we view the concept of sports betting.

The launch also paves the way for other states to foray into sports betting. Delaware opens its doors concurrently with the Garden State, and West Virginia follows shortly afterwards. Only a few years later, nearly half of the states in the union offer sports betting in some capacity, and many more are expected to join soon. None of it would be possible without the efforts of New Jersey lawmakers.

2021

New Jersey officially becomes the king of sports betting in the US. Revenue reports from the Garden State show that bettors placed $6 billion in wagers in 2020, $600 million more than former only-game-in-town Nevada. Though New Jersey’s rapid rise to dominance is startling, there are two major reasons why it has overtaken the Silver State.

The first reason can’t be helped – geography. Although Nevada has some significant population centers inside it and a few nearby, there is no way to compete with the presence of New York City and Philadelphia on the borders of New Jersey – particularly with online sports betting available. In particular, New Yorkers have the motivation to cross the river because they do not have any nearby options themselves. New York is (at the time of this writing) still working on online sports betting, and all of its retail sportsbooks are at least two hours away from the Big Apple. So, it’s just easier to drive through a tunnel and place a few bets.

However, Nevada does itself no favors with the second reason – in-person registration. Although Nevada was the first state to offer online sports betting, its law ludicrously requires players to visit their apps’ partners in person, both for registration and any financial transactions (deposits and withdrawals). It is a baffling legislative choice that becomes more disconcerting with each year. Meanwhile, New Jersey allows players to register, bank, and bet from almost the moment they cross the state lines. It is exponentially less painful than the scheme in Nevada and encourages people to pop across, place their wagers (read: spend their money) in New Jersey, and go back home.

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