New Jersey Casinos – A Comprehensive Guide to the Exciting World
When you think about gambling in the US, your thoughts immediately go to Las Vegas, Nevada. However, there’s another state that’s close on Sin City’s heels, if not overtaking it, which is New Jersey. The Garden State not only offers land-based establishments but also legalized online casinos, which Nevada still prohibits.
New Jersey was one of the first states to legalize online casinos and has since become one of the biggest online gambling hubs in the USA. However, if casinos in New Jersey want to operate legally, they must follow specific regulations and conditions, which we explore below.
To be fully objective in choosing the best casinos in New Jersey, we’ve checked the real players’ experiences and pulled the ratings from TripAdvisor, Yelp!, and other websites. Then, we formed our own average for the three best-rated casinos.
Resorts Atlantic City
Ocean Casino Atlantic City
Hard Rock Atlantic City
Note: These casinos were highly rated on TripAdvisor, Yelp, and Google Reviews, which means lots of players liked them. However, when it comes to picking the best casino for yourself, it’s always a matter of personal preferences, such as game choice, atmosphere, and other factors.
The Biggest NJ Casinos
Thanks to the strict regulations and conditions operators must follow, you won’t find an exhaustive list of New Jersey casinos. As of early 2023 there are nine land-based casinos, all in Atlantic City, and we’ll look at the most famous names among them. While all the venues offer excellent services, these four run the biggest operations.
Borgata Casino Hotel & Spa
This venue offers several services and amenities, with over 161,000 square-foot dedicated to the casino. It opened in 2003 and has over 2,000 rooms and 43 floors. It links with its luxurious sister boutique the Water Club, which provides a massive resort and hotel features valued at around $400 million.Recently, the casino announced a $55 million renovation of the Water Club, which will turn it into a rebranded MGM tower with upgraded and remodeled guest rooms and suites.
You’ll find Borgata is one of the more luxurious options and provides over 2,500 gaming machines, 176 table games, and 52 poker tables. It also features other entertainment, with 13 nightclubs and other amenities such as upscale restaurants, outdoor pools, casual eateries, and the Borgata Buffet, one of the few AC buffets open in 2023. Besides the huge game choice, Borgata Casino is also known for the regular promotions and gaming events that attract players from all over the state. It partnered with BetMGM to offer its selection of sportsbook and horse racing events and offers its online casino to New Jersey players.
When tired of betting, make sure to check the private Borgata Beach or take a walk in the historic Gardner’s Basin district located nearby — it’s a perfect place to learn about the city’s maritime heritage while enjoying the scenic waterfront atmosphere.
Caesars Atlantic City Hotel & Casino
This commercial casino follows a Greek/Roman design to honor its name and features over 145,000 square-feet of the casino floor. It’s one of the oldest land-based gambling establishments, having opened in 1979, and offers over 2,200 games, with 177 table games and 24 poker tables.
In 2021, Caesars Entertainment announced a $200 million renovation, which includes upgrades to the valet, lobby and casino floor, as well as a new outdoor pool. The guests should also expect new restaurants and hotel room renovations.
Now, the hotel casino offers 1,144 guest and luxury suites, with 10 fine dining establishments, including Gordon Ramsay Pub and Grill. It features a full-service salon, a rooftop pool, a world-class fitness center, and the Caesars Circus Maximus Theatre. It also boasts a quality online casino with a VIP program in the Caesars Rewards that extends to its land-based counterparts. Make sure to check the Caesar’s promotions page: there are lots of regularly updated offers not to miss.
Caesars casino is located just near the famous Atlantic City Boardwalk, so you can always take a stroll and stretch your legs after an active gambling session. Not really up for a walk? Check out the Playground — a shopping, dining, and entertainment complex adjacent to the casino.
Harrah’s Resort & Casino Atlantic City
This resort opened in 1980, and reviews show it’s one of the most impressive gaming establishments in Jersey City. It has gone through several renovations in 2016 and 2018, and another one was announced recently as a part of Caesars Entertainment’s global renovation of its Atlantic City properties.
The casino features 156,284 square feet of casino grounds, with over 2,100 games, 40 poker tables, and 110 table games. Harrah’s Casino is a part of Caesars Rewards program, so new and existing members can make use of lucrative promotions and events.
It’s a top coastal casino, featuring a lighted pool, luxury spa, nightclubs, and one of the largest LED display surfaces among all of the US. The Waterfront Tower Display reaches 525 feet and is covered in digital images to provide a unique and exotic experience. There are 2,590 luxury rooms and 10 dining establishments available. Harrah’s is also one of the few pet-friendly hotels in Atlantic City, so you’ll be able to enjoy a luxurious vacation along with your beloved fluffy friend.
Harrah’s Casino is located in the Marina district, a perfect spot to rent a boat and enjoy the waterfront views in between your betting sessions. And if you’re into something more active, check out the Atlantic City Country Club with its famous golf course — it’s right beside the Harrah’s.
Ocean Casino Resort
One of the smaller resorts and recently opened venues, the Ocean Casino Resort still offers excellent facilities. Formerly known as Revel, the Ocean Resort Casino Atlantic City provides players with 1,399 guest rooms, three pools, two-story nightclubs, a spa, a bathhouse, and a fitness center. The casino first opened its doors in 2012, which was then followed by a difficult history of bankruptcies, closings, and reopenings. It was one of the AC casinos to shut down in 2014, to be finally relaunched in 2018 as Ocean Casino.
The 138,000-square-foot gambling center provides over 1,500 gaming machines and 99 table games. After launching in 2018, it partnered with William Hill to offer its sportsbook selection on the premises. You also find over 90,000 square feet of unique outdoor facilities, multiple shops and dining options, and much more to ensure players have first-class experiences. Despite being the smallest one, Ocean Casino is one of the most generous when it comes to rewards and special offers — always check the promotions calendar before your visit to catch your deal.
Ocean Casino is located within walking distance from the iconic Steel Pier, an amusement park with all kinds of thrilling rides and games. Not your thing? Check out the Absecon Lighthouse nearby — it provides the best panoramic views on the city and its surroundings.
Racinos in New Jersey – A Unique Gambling Experience
Another standard gambling establishment in the US is racinos. A racino is a mix of a casino and a race track. Often, these establishments start as popular race tracks and add a few slot machines and other games on their premises. While you’ll find three dedicated horse racetracks in the state, Monmouth Park, Freehold Raceway, and Meadowlands, you won’t currently find any racinos listed.
Typically, racinos do not have as many casino games and slot machines as you would find at a dedicated brick-and-mortar casino. However, the benefit of racinos is you can watch horse races or take a break from them by playing some of the most popular slot machines, all at the same venue.This is perfect for players who love betting on races but also sometimes need a break from the high tension of the racetrack.
Gambling in New Jersey – A Closer Look
In this section, we’ll only review land-based casinos currently available in the Garden State. For example, while the Showboat Casino Hotel reopened its accommodation section after closing in 2014, it hasn’t yet reopened its casino section. For this reason, we don’t count it in the information table below.
You’ll find some gaming information most casinos have available listed here to give you a better idea of the gambling market in NJ. That includes the casino types and games available, as well as the services and operation rules of these venues.
Total Number of NJ Casinos
Casino Game Selection
Slots, Table Games, Poker, Dice Games, Sports Betting, Lottery Games
Eligible Gambling Age
21 years for cash bets, and 18 years for non-cash bets
No free alcohol is served, but you are allowed to drink while playing
Venues are open 24/7 but some close for Christmas and Easter
Between $0.10 and $50,000
Taxation of Winnings
Some venues offer a sportsbook, but not all do
Additional Resort Amenities
Yes, most resorts offer luxury amenities like a spa and pool
Casino Games Available in New Jersey – From Slots to Poker and More
There are thousands of options available for casino games, from the most popular slots and table games to sports betting. We explore the options available in a New Jersey casino, looking at the most frequently played games and which offer more variety.
Slots are popular because of their versatility and straightforward gameplay. There are thousands of options for slot machines, ranging in theme, payout, bonus features, and other elements. However, despite the massive versatility of game design, the gameplay remains the same, which makes it easy to play for beginners and experienced players alike.
Thrilling Poker Tables
Poker is a game that requires some measure of skill, yet it remains an extremely popular table game. Players can test their skill and luck against other players, and it’s one of the oldest table games available. It features many types of tables and poker variations. There are also many AC poker tournaments that you can take part in.
Exciting Yet Easy Roulette
Roulette is an excellent option for beginners and experienced players, as the bets are straightforward, and the player doesn’t need skill to play. A small ball drops into the roulette wheel, and you place a bet on which pocket the ball will land. It’s located in the table games section of the venues. At all of the tables you will see the betting limit.
Variety of Table Games
Besides roulette and poker, there are also various other table games. The most popular titles are blackjack and baccarat, but you can also find some game variations like Sic Bo, craps, and Dragon Tiger.
While not part of the standard game section, some venues also offer a sportsbook where you can make sports bets. The sportsbook lets you bet on popular sports games, matches, and races with many bet types and markets available.
Legal Aspects of Gambling in New Jersey
As we mentioned before, operators must follow various regulations and conditions to offer their services legally in the US. These regulations ensure venues remain fair and provide reliable services to New Jersey players. Below, we look into what legal regulations the state implements on land-based casinos.
Taxation of Winnings in New Jersey – What You Need to Know
Like the rest of the US, NJ implements a 24% federal tax on gambling winnings. However, that’s not the only tax New Jersey charges, as they subtract the Gross Income Tax from any winnings. Gambling winnings refer to money won from making a sports bet or wagering on any casino game.
In the Garden State the Gross Income tax is 3% across the board for any winnings, except for lottery wins. Lottery wins have a ranging tax percentage, depending on the amount you won in the lottery. For lottery wins between $10,000 and $500,000, you have a 5% Gross Income tax, while lottery payouts over $500,000 have an 8% Gross Income tax. In the case you can’t provide a valid taxpayer Identification Number, winnings over $10,000 will also be subject to an 8% tax rate.
It’s important to note the tax percentage is calculated on how much the lottery is paying out, not on how much an individual receives. If the payout is $15,000, split between two people, they calculate the tax on the $15,000, not the $7,500 each individual receives. As such, you can have a higher tax percentage, even if your win amount is lower than $10,000.
New Jersey Gambling Laws – An Overview
While New Jersey is much less restrictive in their gaming laws compared to other states, that doesn’t mean there aren’t still strict requirements operators have to follow. The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement regulates and licenses casinos in the state.
In this state, almost all forms of gambling are legal, including casino games, sports betting, and online gambling. However, we discuss the three vital gaming rules establishments must follow according to legislation.
Specific areas in a casino are restricted, and no party using the casino facilities for entertainment or gaming may access these areas. The restricted areas include slot cage booths, count rooms, table game pits’ interiors, and more.
The final regulation we explore states that it’s illegal for a casino or casino employee to accept suspicious transactions. The legislation defines suspicious transactions as cash, or cash equivalents like chips, that’s given by a party that holds a license issued under P.L.1977, c.110.
History of Gambling in New Jersey – How Did It All Start?
New Jersey has a rich gambling history. Lotteries were quite common in the early days before being outlawed in 1844. There were informal horse races in the 1830s that took place at Freehold Raceway, which was the first racetrack in the US. The Monmouth County Agricultural Society was established in 1853 and the next year harness racing was introduced at Freehold Raceway. Monmouth Park Racetrack opened its doors in 1870 but in 1894 New Jersey banned parimutual racing and in 1897 all gambling activities were banned. Betting on horse racing and charity bingos were legalized again in 1939.
In 1974 voters in New Jersey voted against legalizing casino gambling in the Garden State. Only two years later those voters changed their mind and approved a referendum for land-based casinos, but they had to be located in Atlantic City. The first casino in New Jersey that legally opened was Resorts Casino Hotel. It was quickly followed by Caesar’s Atlantic City Hotel & Casino and Bally’s Atlantic City Hotel & Casino. Over the years, several more venues opened, and finally, NJ became one of the first states to legalize online gambling in 2013 and in 2018 sports betting was legalized.
Upcoming Changes in New Jersey Gambling Regulation – What You Need to Know
New Jersey is one of the few states that offer quite liberal laws. There’s not much more to be changed. Any changes that occur are more likely to be regulations smoothing out kinks in the legislation and allowing the industry to run smoother.
It’s interesting that when the state legalized online gambling in 2013, it only implemented this law for 10 years. That means 2023 was the year that the state needed to renew the law, and they did for the next 10 years. Given the overwhelming success and tax income NJ generates from online gambling, it was a lock that it would remain legal in the Garden State.
Atlantic City Casinos and the Economy
Atlantic City is the second largest casino gaming market in the country as of 2022, so it’s no wonder the city’s commercial casinos have a huge impact on the region’s economy. The total gaming revenue of the state reached $5,21 billion in 2022, 9.25% of which would go to taxes — 8% as a state gaming tax and 1.25% as an obligation for investment in economic development projects in AC and the rest of the state.
The gaming tax is essential for the state’s development: besides the economic development projects, it’s also used to fund the public education system, as well as senior citizen and disabled residence programs. Moreover, the New Jersey gambling market supports more than 39,000 jobs, as of December 2022.
Upcoming New Casinos in New Jersey
One of the land-based venues that people think will open soon is the previously mentioned Showboat Casino. Showboat Hotel and Casino originally opened in 1987 but has since closed several times, the latest of which was in 2014. Due to the increasing competition between hotels and casinos, this company had no choice but to close its doors. It seemed the show was over for Showboat, but recently, the hotel section of the establishment opened.
A massive $50 million renovation project is underway to completely redo the hotel’s rooms, amenities, and services. It features 1,329 rooms, with 128 luxury suites. Three restaurants and two bars are available, along with a spa, miniature golf course, and beautiful seaside resort amenities. Showboat Hotel is set on making a magnificent and luxurious comeback after its nine-year closure.
However, the casino section of this establishment isn’t open yet. While we eagerly await its opening, no news has officially confirmed the casino section will indeed open. Two other venues have also been proposed. These establishments are Liberty Rising in Jersey City and Hard Rock Casino in East Rutherford. However, these casinos can only open if a voter referendum overturns the legislation limiting these venues to Atlantic City.
Conclusion – Summing Up Your New Jersey Casino Adventure
Gambling in the US has always been a controversial topic, but in recent years, we’ve seen a more positive regard towards the subject. New Jersey is one of the states leading the movement, showing a regulated gambling market can be beneficial towards the state government and residents and visitors alike. A review of the success of USA gamble-friendly states shows that this positive movement might continue forward.
In the meantime, New Jersey Atlantic City is one of the most popular and luxurious gaming hubs for US players. This Garden State offers quality casinos, virtually any casino game, and even sports betting to give you a lot of options.
Are there any Native American-operated casinos in New Jersey?
No. While there are many states that have Native American casinos, New Jersey is not one of them.
Tribal Native American establishments are operated on reservations or tribal lands and offer various casino games, lotteries, bingo, and video poker games. The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 regulates the establishment and management of these venues. This law says that federally recognized tribes can operate a casino on Indian lands. However, while the state of New Jersey recognizes some tribes, there are no NJ tribes recognized by the federal government.
Are there any casinos on cruise ships or riverboats in New Jersey?
There are no casino cruise ships that embark from New Jersey. Cruise ships became a significant gaming hub in the US, as these ships could travel to international waters and allow these activities without being beholden to state laws. Research estimates that over $15 billion is generated from these cruise ships each year. The state of New Jersey also does not have any riverboat casinos.
What is the legal age for gambling in New Jersey?
If you want to gamble at a casino in NJ, you must be at least 21 years of age. This age restriction is valid for any real money bet, whether at a brick-and-mortar casino or an online site. If you’re below 21 years, you’re not allowed to make any cash bets. However, there are some types of gambling with lower age restrictions. People ages 18 and up can buy lottery tickets and bet on horses. However, if the bets don’t fall into these categories, you must be 21 years or over.
Are there any casinos in New Jersey that offer childcare services?
Technically, the casinos do not offer childcare services, but, often, the establishments they are on will. Venues like Harrah’s Resort and Golden Nugget provide their guests kids entertainment and daycare services.
Are there any charity gambling activities in New Jersey?
Yes, charitable gambling is widely available in NJ and involves bingo, raffles, and casino nights, organized by around 12,000 eligible charities across the state. If a charity organization wants to host these games for charity, they need to register with the Legalized Games of Chance Control Commission. This Commission supervises charitable gaming to ensure fairness and compliance with regulations.