Curious how legal online gambling came to pass in New Jersey? Or what’s taken place to get the industry to where it currently stands?
This comprehensive timeline covers all of the major events in the development and launch of regulated Internet gambling in NJ.
The timeline is updated monthly to include the latest news and updates in New Jersey’s online gambling market. Newest events are listed last.
2012 – Groundwork laid
February 9, 2012: State Senator Raymond Lesniak introduced SB 1565, a bill authorizing Internet gaming at Atlantic City casinos.
February 16, 2012: AB 2578, a sister bill to Lesniak’s SB 1565 is introduced into the State Assembly This bill also authorizes Internet gaming at Atlantic City casinos.
December 17, 2012: AB 2578 passes the State Assembly (48-25-3).
2013 – From law to launch
December 20, 2013: AB 2578 is substituted for SB 1565 in the State Senate, and passes by a 33-3 margin.
February 7, 2013: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie conditionally vetoes AB 2578, calling for several changes including a higher tax rate and increasing the amount of money earmarked for problem gambling initiatives.
February 26, 2013: The amended bill, with the Governor’s changes, passes the Assembly (69-5-1) and the Senate (36-1).
February 27, 2013: Chris Christie signs New Jersey’s online gaming bill into law. Casinos go in search of iGaming partners and the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement gets to work on creating the regulatory framework.
July 3, 2013: The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJ DGE) releases details on the partnerships applications they have received:
- Caesars Entertainment and 888
- Borgata and bwin.party
- Golden Nugget and Bally Technologies
- Trump Taj Mahal and Ultimate Gaming
- The Tropicana and GameSys
- Trump Plaza and Betfair
- Resorts and PokerStars
Sidebar: While Atlantic City casinos and a number of online gaming providers were busy forming partnerships in the lead up to the late-November launch, PokerStars was going a step farther and attempting to purchase an Atlantic City casino, the Atlantic Club. The potential sale first came to light in December of 2012, but in May of 2013 the deal was, for all intents and purposes, dead, as the Atlantic Club pulled out of the negotiations – taking a pile of PokerStars money with it. In June, following a court battle, the sale was officially kyboshed. In the aftermath of their failed purchase of the Atlantic Club, PokerStars entered into a partnership with Resorts Casino.
October 4, 2013: The NJ DGE announces November 26, 2013 as the official launch date for online gaming. A soft launch date of November 21 was later announced.
November 8, 2013: The NJ DGE releases their initial list of approved Transactional Waivers (a license that allows operators and their partners to offer online gaming in New Jersey); PokerStars is not on the list.
November 15, 2013: As the soft launch approaches the NJ DGE updates their approved licenses list. PokerStars is still nowhere to be found.
November 20, 2013: PokerStars is informed they will not be a part of New Jersey’s upcoming online gaming launch.
November 21, 2013: New Jersey’s era of online gaming officially begins as the soft launch period gets underway. It wasn’t all smooth sailing, as several notable issues emerged during the testing phase, including the Golden Nugget’s inability to get its product online.
November 25, 2013: Despite the initial hiccups, New Jersey’s full launch date is confirmed, and NJ online operators are given the go-ahead to officially launch their online gaming sites (a day earlier than anticipated).
December 2013: The first big, feel-good, story occurs in New Jersey, when Mike “MikeyCasino” Azzaro pulls off an incredible feat, winning the first two $50k Sunday Guaranteed tournaments held at NJ.partypoker.com.
December 13, 2013: The Golden Nugget is finally able to get their house in order and is given the go-ahead to join the online gaming market by the NJ DGE. This occurs nearly three weeks after their competitors have launched, leaving GN with a lot of ground to make up.
December 16, 2013: Online gambling accounts in New Jersey approach 100,000, a good sign for the nascent industry.
December 26, 2013: As 2013 draws to a close, Caesars and Borgata are the clear frontrunners in the market.
2014 – Finding footing
January 6, 2014: The NJ DGE reveals that nearly 150,000 online gaming accounts have been created since launch.
January 8, 2014: A historic deal was signed between partypoker and three entities, the New Jersey Devils, Philadelphia 76ers and the Prudential Center that saw the addition of partypoker signage and kiosks during sporting events and concerts. Later in the year WSOP.com signed a toned-down version of this deal with the New York Rangers.
January 19-February 2, 2014: WSOP.com hosts the first major tournament series in the state, the New Jersey Online Championships. The events feature a lot of overlays, and the series is bookended by two massive $250,000 freeroll tournaments.
February 6, 2014: Wynn Resorts was granted an online gaming license in New Jersey, but just a week prior Steve Wynn changed his position on online gambling, claiming there was no money in it. The Wynn’s New Jersey iGaming plans have been on hold ever since.
February 9, 2014: Trying to turn around their fortunes in the market Ultimate Poker launches an intriguing new tournament promotion called “NO-verlay.” The promotion was innovative, and saw traffic rise at the site throughout its one-month run, but NO-verlay did little to solve the site’s long term problems.
February 25, 2014: For the first time some chinks in New Jersey’s iGaming armor were exposed when traffic numbers began dipping in late February. This would be a harbinger for a period of decline beginning in the spring that would last right through the summer.
Sidebar: Beginning with the Atlantic Club in early January, the Atlantic City casino industry underwent a significant amount of contraction in 2014. As of October 18, a total of four casinos shut their doors in 2014: The aforementioned Atlantic Club, Trump Plaza, Showboat, and Revel. Only one of these casinos had any involvement in New Jersey’s online gaming industry, Trump Plaza, whose partner Betfair was left scrambling for a new home. Further changes in the land-based casino industry in NJ (and by extension online gaming) are likely. Rumors the Trump Taj Mahal will become the fifth casino to close down this year is gaining steam, and at the same time the Revel Casino has been bought and is expected to eventually reopen as a casino, and perhaps add online poker and casino games to their list of gaming options.
April 19-27, 2014: As the competition between themselves and WSOP.com heats up partypoker/Borgata host the New Jersey Championships of Online Poker (NJCOP) tournament series. NJCOP runs at the same time as the WPT Championship being held at the Bellagio, and while the series could be called a success, it was not without its problems.
May 20, 2014: From the start, one of the chief complaints made by the online gaming operators in New Jersey was the continued existence of Black Market sites. In May the New Jersey DGE decided to crack down on these sites, beginning with affiliates who were double-dipping, advertising both licensed and unlicensed sites. Eventually, virtually all of the Black Market operators would publicly leave the market.
June 13, 2014: Amaya Gaming buys PokerStars for $4.9 billion, and almost immediately talk of PokerStars’ New Jersey debut gains steam.
June 1-15, 2014: WSOP.com New Jersey Online Championships II runs concurrently with the World Series of Poker tournament series in Las Vegas. The series is for the most part is underwhelming.
September 8, 2014: Governor Chris Christie speaks at a gaming summit in New Jersey, stating that he has been involved in talks with Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval about a potential interstate online poker agreement between the two states.
September 7-21, 2014: The $1 million guaranteed Garden State Super Series (GSSS) is held at parypoker/Borgata, and once again the series was relatively successful, but experienced a major technical glitch that forced the cancellation of the Main Event.
September 21, 2014: Ultimate Gaming officially leaves New Jersey, citing the uncertain future of its partner, Trump Taj Mahal, following Trump Entertainment’s bankruptcy filing. According to Ultimate Gaming Trump Taj Mahal had not made dividend payments to Ultimate for several months.
October 3, 2014: Betfair finds a new home following the closure of Trump Plaza thanks to Caesars Entertainment. Their long-term residency in New Jersey is still in question, but they did receive the reprieve they needed.
October 14, 2014: The New Jersey DGE courts social game developers to the Garden State by offering to authorize their games for real money play.
November 12th, 2014: It becomes obvious that PokerStars will not be launching in New Jersey in 2015.
November 26th, 2014: New Jersey marks their first anniversary of offering regulated online gambling, a year that I believe is more successful than most would argue.