New Jersey is a gambling hotspot in the United States and is only second to Nevada regarding gaming. Players in the Garden State have several options available to them to satisfy that betting fix. For example, New Jersey offers online sports betting through sportsbooks, online casino betting, and land-based casinos. For the average gambler, that’s plenty to keep you busy on a fun-filled holiday. In this article, we will take a look at the history of gambling in New Jersey and review the five hottest casinos in the state.
A Bit O’ History
Gambling in the form of lotteries dates back to the 1700s in New Jersey. The use of lotteries at the time was to raise funds to assist the military during the French and Indian War and the American Revolution. Funds from state lotteries in the early years also supported education. It was lottery funds that saw Princeton University and Rutgers University built. Lotteries were eventually banned in the state in 1844 and remained illegal for almost two centuries.
Freehold Raceway, the oldest racetrack in the country, opened in New Jersey in the 1830s. Monmouth Park, the state’s first thoroughbred racetrack, opened in 1870. It was in Eatontown. At the time, wagering on live horse racing was taking hold and became quite popular. A few years later, the state legislators banned all forms of gambling. This meant that betting on the races at either track was now illegal, and violators would face harsh penalties.
The gambling ban ran from 1894 to 1939, but enforcement of the ban was virtually nonexistent. Slot machines and sports betting grew in popularity, and bingo was a frequent activity at church and non-profit functions. Non-profits were permitted to legally conduct bingo and raffle events in 1953 in various bingo halls in New Jersey, and horserace betting had officially become a legal gambling activity in 1939. The state lottery was introduced in 1970, and casino gambling was legalized in 1976, but only in Atlantic City.
Sports betting became legal in 2012 and includes both professional and college sports with some stipulations. For example, college games hosted within New Jersey are off-limits for betting, as are games that feature New Jersey college teams out of state. New Jersey also became the first US state to legalize online casino gaming. That was in 2013 and was followed in 2018 with legal Daily Fantasy Sports. New Jersey is certainly leading the way in gambling!
The Top Casinos In New Jersey
There are a total of ten legal land-based casinos in New Jersey. All of them are located in Atlantic City. Here is the list of the top five of those casinos.
1 – Borgata Hotel Casino
1 Borgata Way, Atlantic City, NJ 08401
Officially known as the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, this facility is operated by MGM Resorts International. It is the largest hotel located in the state with a total of 2,798 rooms. It opened for business in July 2003 and has a total of 161,000 square feet of gaming space. The casino contains around 4,000 slot machines, 50 poker tables, and another 180 table games. It is the highest-grossing casino in Atlantic City and has appeared in many movies and television shows.
2 – Harrah’s Atlantic City Casino
777 Harrah’s Boulevard, Atlantic City, NJ 08401
Harrah’s Atlantic City Casino opened in November 1980 and is operated by Caesar’s Entertainment. It contains 2,587 rooms and a gaming area that measures 160,000 square feet. The site was originally to be named Holiday Inn Marina Casino as it sits in the Marina District of Atlantic City. The casino has 5,567 slot and video poker machines, and 139 table games. There is a 40-table poker room that hosts an annual World Series of Poker event and there is a sportsbook on-site that opened in 2018 accepting sports bets. There is also a theatre and spa on site.
3 – Golden Nugget Casino
600 Huron Avenue, Atlantic City, NJ 08401
The Golden Nugget Atlantic City opened in June 1985 as Trump’s Castle and was renamed Trump Marina in 1997. When the property was purchased in 2011 by Laundry’s Inc., it became the Golden Nugget. It has 717 rooms and 74,252 square feet of gaming space. There are also seven restaurants, a nightclub, theater, spa, sportsbook, and more. The casino has close to 1,500 slot machines, several table games, and a 9-table poker room.
4 – Caesars Atlantic City Casino
30 North Arkansas Avenue, Atlantic City, NJ 08401
This was the Howard Johnson Regency Motol Hotel, which opened in 1966. It was purchased by Caesars in 1977 and underwent several renovations, including the addition of a casino. Originally known as the Boardwalk Regency, this casino opened in June 1979. There are now 1,141 rooms and 145,000 square feet of gaming space. It contains over 3,000 slot machines and 135 table games. There are several restaurants on-site, a spa, and a theater.
5 – Tropicana Casino
2831 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, NY 08401
This site has a very long history in Atlantic City. It was originally the Ambassador Hotel, which opened in 1919. It became The Phoenix in 1978, Tropicana in 1981, TropWorld Resort in 1988, and back to the Tropicana in 1996. The hotel has 2,364 rooms and 130,000 square feet of gaming space. The casino has more than 3,000 slot machines and over 132 table games. There is also a sportsbook, more than 30 restaurants, and a 2,000-seat showroom.
If you are looking for somewhere to go to gamble and not encounter any issues, then New Jersey is the place to visit. Atlantic City has all of the state’s land-based casinos and these are not small venues. Each of the casinos contains thousands of slot machines and other casino games. Attached to huge hotels and resorts, the time you spend gambling in The Garden State will be filled with great memories and hopefully a few big wins either in the casino or the sportsbook.