Is NJ Online Poker Legal? - Overview of Legal Online Poker

Is Online Poker Legal in NJ?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions regarding online gambling in the U.S. Does legal online poker exist in New Jersey? In what states can you legally play poker online for money?

Online gambling enthusiasts want to know where to find legal, regulated online poker. The answer is often complex as online gambling laws are constantly changing in the United States, however, there are currently four states which offer regulated, legal online poker.

Gamblers can play poker online for money legally in New Jersey, Nevada, Delaware, and Pennsylvania.

Overview of Legal Online Poker in the US

Federal Wire Act limits online gambling

Legal online poker is governed by two separate laws in the US. The Interstate Wire Act of 1961, aka the Federal Wire Act, limits the actions of betting companies from transmitting information via wire communications. Originally this law targeted organized crime through interstate gambling. It did not originally include online gambling, however. At the time in which this law was passed, the internet did not yet exist. Nowadays, because the internet uses wire communications in order to function, this act now has some jurisdiction over online gambling.

After the US Department of Justice (DOJ) released its legal re-modification of the Federal Wire Act in 2011, a consensus was made that interstate transmission of wire communications not related to sports contests, no longer pertain to this law. The act would have no voice over online gambling, and this includes online poker.

DOJ pushes out online gambling companies

The Unlawful Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), which passed in 2006, restricted banks from processing transactions coming from online gambling operators outside of the US. This obviously limited many of the best real money poker sites from capitalizing on the US market. The DOJ effectively pushed out many of the major online gambling companies such as PokerStars, by charging them with money laundering and illegal gambling.

Regulations made for legal online poker

These offshore sites have successfully found ways around complicated banking roadblocks, maneuvering around the UIGEA. Once this new idea of the Federal Wire Act was made public in 2011, four states passed legislation to create laws around legal online poker. In these four states, it is legal - within state lines - to play poker online for money. Out of these four states, three of them even signed agreements to share online gambling pools. Therefore, it is not strictly against US law to play poker online for money.

New online gambling legislation

Moving forward with legal online poker means new legislation for these states. Delaware made the first move in 2012 with the Delaware Gaming Competitiveness Act, which allowed for the legalization of online casino games including online poker. Soon after, Nevada authorized online poker licenses in 2013, launching the first-ever legal, regulated online poker site in the country. New Jersey came next with their legalization of regulated online gambling. This authorized Atlantic City casinos to operate NJ online casinos along with online poker sites. Finally, in 2017, Pennsylvania became the fourth state to introduce legal online poker in the US, beginning their legalization process of regulatory and licensing matters for online poker sites, which is in fact, still ongoing. Online gamblers in several states can now legally play poker online for money. They can now play legal, regulated, real money poker games on some of the best real money poker sites.

Play poker online for money in New Jersey

Since online poker became legal in New Jersey, there has been an increase in quality along with an increase in options for legal online poker games. Today, there are seven legal online poker sites operating under four poker networks in the state of New Jersey.

Players can play poker online for money now within New Jersey state lines. State-regulated online poker sites do not require players to be residents of New Jersey, however, players must be within state lines in order to legally play poker online for real money.

PokerStars

Although PokerStars was forced to pay a whopping $731 million fee, charged for violating the UIGEA in 2012, the company was still eager to re-enter to the US online gambling market. The establishment battled competitors and lawsuits for a duration of time while many worked hard at keeping PokerStars out of the NJ online gambling market. PokerStars pushed forward relentlessly and eventually shocked the Garden State by announcing a $10 million plan with AC Resorts to create a PokerStars-branded poker room within the casino.

The addition of PokerStars has been beneficial to New Jersey’s legal online poker industry. Resorts AC now has poker events such as the PokerStars festival, which brings in more poker enthusiasts to the table. The company also hosts flourishing online tournaments like PokerStars NJCOOP while sponsoring a few of the US poker pros, whose streaming has encouraged viewers supporting the movement of legal online poker.

WSOP NJ/888

Operated by Caesars and partnered with 888, this legal online poker room is one of poker's most esteemed brands. From its launch in 2013, the World Series of Poker NJ (WSOP NJ) was one of New Jersey's leading best real money poker sites. WSOP.com signed a partnership in 2015 with legal online poker brand 888poker, which created the network we recognize today, WSOP.com/888. Then in 2017, Gov. Chris Christie entered New Jersey into the Multi-State Gaming Alliance with Nevada and Delaware. Once WSOP.com began pooling online gambling players from other states, the site soon became the largest legal online poker website in the country.

PartyPoker/Borgata

PartyPoker and Borgata both operate from the same legal and regulated online poker network. With Borgata's uber profitable Atlantic City casino raking in revenue, it makes a beneficial partner for PartyPoker NJ. With software provided by bwin.party, the platform offers a smooth and safe place for online gambling enthusiasts.

Pala Poker

Pala Poker is still working hard at fitting into the saturated New Jersey legal online poker market. The company’s NJ online casino launched in 2014 from a partnership between Pala Interactive and Atlantic City’s Borgata Casino. A few years later the site decided to add poker, however keeping the site separate from Borgata’s online poker site.

PlayMGM Poker

Launched in 2017, playMGM poker launched under Borgata's casino license.  Its software is provided by GVC and this site alone caters to nearly one-third of New Jersey’s online poker traffic. The poker sites on this network share tournaments and games, while offering different bonuses and rewards.

Legal online poker in today’s New Jersey market

All New Jersey poker sites are licensed through casinos in Atlantic City. Regulated online poker rooms in the state of New Jersey include Borgata, PartyPoker, PokerStars, 888, Pala Poker, WSOP.com, and playMGM Poker.

Borgata holds the license for Borgata, PartyPoker, and playMGM, while Harrah's operates WSOP.com and 888 and PokerStars holds a partnership with Resorts AC.

Since PokerStars entered the New Jersey legal online poker market, other online poker sites have noticed a drop in online gambling traffic and revenue. However, the market has seen a rise in the quality of promotions and events. The number of games has increased as well, thanks to PokerStars stepping into the market.

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Sacha

28 February 2019

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