First up, let’s just refer to casinos in Atlantic City, as that’s the only area with full-on casino gaming in the state. Having said this, the scene in America’s second gambling capital has hit some hard times lately, as symbolized by Donald Trump’s divesture of his interests in the area before his election as president of the United States. America’s one-time second city for casino gambling has lost a little of its cachet since the glory days of the 1980s and 90s, but there are still seven gaming spots along the boardwalk.
Earlier in the 2010s, some investors still believed in Atlantic City and worked to revive an area that’s brought tourists since the 1930s. The Resorts Casino Hotel underwent renovation in 2011 to give the place a “Roaring Twenties” theme (very appropriate, given certain economic circumstances), and the Revel Atlantic City was New Jersey’s second-tallest building when it opened in 2012. Six years later the Resorts is facing serious financial “challenges”, while the Revel closed in October ’14 after just 2½ years of operation.
Beyond this, three large-scale casinos planned for the Atlantic City waterfront in the early 2010s – an MGM Grand, the Pinnacle and the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino – were shelved altogether befor the shrinkage of ’14, when four casinos (the Revel, Atlantic Club, Showboat and Trump Plaza) closed.
Population: 8.94 million (2016 est.)
Area: 8.723 sq. mi.
Gambling Age (Casinos): 21
Gambling Age (Lottery): 18
Number of Casinos: 7
• At approximately 1,030 residents per square mile, New Jersey is the most densely-populated state.
• New Jersey leads the U.S. in chemical production – and toxic waste dumps.
• In 1851, New Jersey became the home of America’s first Indian reservation land.
• In New Jersey, it is illegal to wear a bulletproof vest while committing murder.
Through the 18th century and into the 19th, gambling laws in New Jersey were remarkably laissez-faire – which is to say mostly non-existent. Lotteries were common and Freehold Raceway, one of America’s first horse racing tracks, was established in 1831.
It seemed the liberal view toward gambling in New Jersey was suppressed in the second half of the 19th century, despite the increasing number of horse racing events regularly held at the state’s tracks. In 1844, lotteries were banned; even more intriguingly, state legislators made pari-mutuel gambling illegal in 1894 – some 40 years before most states *legalized* it in the first place! Finally, in the spirt of prohibitionism burgeoning in the ‘States, voters amended the New Jersey constitution in 1897 to outlaw all gambling.
Naturally, illegal gambling activity was rife in New Jersey for the next four decades and in 1939, the pendulum on gambling laws started to swing the other way. In 1939, pari-mutuel gambling became the first to (legally) return; charitable bingo and raffles were legalized in ’53, with slot machines and “amusement games” following suit in ’59. Finally, 1970 saw voters overwhelmingly pass a referendum which would establish the state lottery.
The decisions that shaped the modern New Jersey gambling industry took place in 1974 and ’76 referenda: The former saw legalized gambling throughout the state voted down, but in the latter, voters gave the OK to allow casino gambling in Atlantic City. The aforementioned Resorts Atlantic City opened two years later.
But despite the boom of the 1980s and 90s, which ballooned in part due to Trump’s promotion of Vegas-like sporting events and entertainment at his Trump Plaza, the writing was on the wall for mthe start. Beginning in the 1980s, Atlantic City was no longer seen as a top-notch summer vacation destination for New Yorkers and others on the East Coast. Passage of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IRGRA) of 1988 by the federal government opened up legal casino hosting to Native American tribes in nearby New York, Pennsylvania and beyond.
By late 2016, Atlantic City casinos had been reduced to just seven. Indeed, at that time the list of out-of-business Atlantic City casinos number nine, while cancelled casino projects numbered 12 – either figure is quite a bit higher than most states have *ever* hosted.
In order to make up for the tax revenues lost from a flailing industry, New Jersey took the radical and revolutionary step in 2013 to legalize online gambling within the state’s borders after a voter referendum passed in ‘11. However, a lawsuit brought by some of North America’s bigger professional sports leagues re-illegalized online sports gambling before it came to be. One of highly unpopular governor (and Trump stooge) Chris Christie’s pet projects has been to overturn this ban, though as of 2017, nothing has come to fruition.
The one-mighty Atlantic City gambling scene of a dozen casino outlets has been reduced to nearly half its former grandeur: With the closing of the Trump Taj Mahal in October 2016, just seven casinos in Atlantic City remained open for business: Bally's Atlantic City, The Borgata, Caesars Atlantic City, Golden Nugget Atlantic City, Harrah's Atlantic City, the Resorts Casino Hotel, and the Tropicana.
Despite New Jersey’s re-liberalized gambling laws, the minimum age to play in Atlantic City casinos is 21 years old. The same goes for online casino gambling within the state, though naturally this is a heck of a lot harder to prove…
Just today, this writer exchanged a witticism derived from Seinfeld, a TV program which first hit American airwaves nearly 30 years ago. How exactly this one sitcom struck so deeply into this culture’s vein is another story altogether, but here we’re giving props to famous New Jerseyite and high-profile poker play Jason Alexander, a.k.a. George Costanza.
Alexander was one of the first high-profile celebrities to participate in the World Series of Poker when the poker craze hit in the mid-2000s. He competed in the 2005 and ’07 tournaments and managed to finish in the top 30% of finishers in the latter. Alexander has managed to establish himself as one of the top players to come out of celeb circles since, most notably taking the Celebrity Poker Showdown title in 2006.
As it stands, most forms of gambling are legal in New Jersey (or at least in Atlantic City): the state lottery, pari-mutuel racing at the state’s four racetracks, bingo, casino gambling and online casino gambling are allowed within the state.
Heading into the 20s, the would-be Sin City of the East Coast is trying to survive amidst the economic realities of the 21st century, but we’d guess that more contraction is coming to the beachised area rather than less: Indeed, an independent study undertaken in 2015 showed that legalization of casino gambling in all of New Jersey would essentially put four of Atlantic City’s remaining seven casinos out of business.
In addition, Christie will tilt at the windmill of legalized sports gambling in New Jersey straight through to his leaving office in 2018. Due to his insane highly unpopularity, we’re expecting a Democrat to take things over in ’18 – and here’s to thinking legal sports betting won’t be high on his/her agenda.