In the late 1970s, New Jersey became the second state in the country to legalize casinos, and over the following years several opened on the famed Atlantic City Boardwalk. It wasn’t until 1993 the state legalized poker, though soon Atlantic City also became home to some of the most popular poker rooms in the country, especially during “poker boom” of the 2000s.
In November 2013, NJ became the third US state to launch legal, regulated online poker sites following the opening of sites in Nevada and Delaware earlier that year. Unlike elsewhere, New Jersey had multiple online poker sites open all at once, giving players a variety of options from the start.
The Garden State has remained a significant part of the burgeoning US online poker market, particularly after entering a multi-state poker compact in 2017. The Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement provides the mechanism for player and liquidity sharing between NJ, NV, and DE.
New Jersey presently has more online poker sites up and running than any other state in the US.
Although seven sites are currently active, some are skins operating on the same network. In total, the state has four distinct online poker networks.
Two sites that launched along with others in November 2013 closed thereafter: UltimatePoker NJ (in Sept. 2014) and Betfair Poker NJ (in Dec. 2014).
After a slow start in the state, WSOP NJ grew in prominence thanks in large part to the name recognition of the World Series of Poker.
With a license through Caesars Interactive Entertainment and operating as the All-American Poker Network (fully acquired by 888 Holdings in late 2018), the network pulled ahead of PokerStars in mid-2018 to claim the NJ market lead.
WSOP NJ currently enjoys one major advantage over the other sites and networks in New Jersey, as players on the site get to play against not only other players in the state but also against those playing on WSOP in Nevada and on 888 in Delaware as part of a shared pool.
Pala Interactive launched its online casino in New Jersey in November 2014, making the California-based Pala Band of Mission Indians the first tribal operator to do so in the state.
The group initially held off on poker due to the imminent arrival of PokerStars NJ and an expectation that the small room would not be able to achieve adequate liquidity. Pala Poker finally launched in June 2017 and has since remained a minor player in a state where three global leaders attract the majority of the market share.
Interestingly, Pala Poker is the rare online poker room that is not open 24 hours a day, instead only operating during the late afternoon and evening hours. The hours have changed over the years, but most recently cash games start at 5 p.m. and tournaments at 6 p.m. (ET), with the room “closing” around 1 a.m. each night.
The one-time global online poker leader partypoker was part of the first group of sites to launch in the state, starting strong and maintaining the market lead for the first two-plus years before PokerStars arrived to challenge them in 2016 in kind of a small-scale reprise of the pre-UIGEA battles.
Borgata, the state’s largest casino and most popular brick-and-mortar poker room, acts as the land-based partner. Along with a Borgata-branded poker site, playMGM Poker was added to the network as a third skin in August 2017. It, along with its online casino and sportsbook, was rebranded BetMGM Poker in Sept. 2019.
That rebranding coincided with MGM partnering with GVC Holdings to create Roar Digital, all of which means partypoker potentially has access to any US online gambling market in which MGM or Boyd Gaming owns property.
Thus far, however, New Jersey remains the only state where partypoker is active — although Pennsylvania seems a likely next candidate.
Eager to launch a site in New Jersey and reenter the US after having left in April 2011 in the wake of Black Friday, various factors forced PokerStars to wait nearly two-and-a-half years after other sites launched.
Those complications included a failed negotiation by PokerStars to purchase the now-shuttered Atlantic Club Casino in 2014 and NJ regulators suspending PokerStars from getting a license for two more years while executives of Stars’ parent company dealt with a series of legal matters.
Once those issues were resolved — and after striking up a partnership with Resorts Atlantic City — the global leader in online poker finally returned to New Jersey. PokerStars quickly grabbed the majority of NJ market share after launch, though it lost its advantage to WSOP/888 in mid-2018.
The three primary NJ online poker networks — WSOP/888, PokerStars, and partypoker — all offer a wide range of tournament options on a fairly consistent basis. All three have regular tournament series which create high-traffic periods for each, relatively speaking.
Worth noting: regardless of the site or network, online poker tournaments in New Jersey are almost always no-limit hold’em, with the occasional pot-limit Omaha tournament tossed into the mix. Once in a while during big tournament series you might find a seven-card stud event, though that’s rare.
Partypoker offers over 70 daily tournaments with buy-ins starting at $2. Most have guarantees, highlighted by the $109 buy-in Daily $10K with a $10,000 guarantee.
There is a popular weekly $535 buy-in tournament called the Mega Tuesday 500 that sports a $15,000 guaranteed prize pool. There is also the weekly Network Sunday $35,000 Tournament that costs $215 to play, one of over 30 regular Sunday events.
The site also sometimes runs special event or seasonal tournament series as well. In the past partypoker NJ ran a twice-a-year Garden State Super Series, although declining fields caused the site to discontinue the series in 2019.
Like other sites, PokerStars NJ has a full slate of Sunday tournaments — including its marquee Sunday Special with a $200 buy-in and the $500 Sunday High Roller — most of which feature guaranteed prize pools.
PokerStars NJ also features lots of low buy-in daily (and more than daily) tournaments like The Big $15, The Big $30, The Hot $50 and the like, as well as regular Bounty Builder Progressive Knockout tournaments with buy-ins ranging from $15 to $200.
PokerStars NJ also runs popular seasonal tournament series, including:
By virtue of its shared player pool with Nevada and Delaware, WSOP NJ is able to offer a number of regular tournaments with guaranteed prize pools — including a weekly $100,000 tournament on Sunday and daily tournaments with $10,000 guarantees.
WSOP NJ also features regular freerolls to help players build bankrolls, as well as regular satellite tournaments to win seats in live events. The site also runs special tournament series from time to time, such as the WSOP Online Super Circuit series.
WSOP also runs online bracelet events while the land-based World Series of Poker is taking place in Las Vegas every summer, with more added each year.
Each of the online poker sites in New Jersey provide a number of different ways for players to deposit funds to their accounts. Options available include the following:
There are also a number of withdrawal methods available to New Jersey online poker players. Here are some that are currently available:
Some of these options are available on some sites but not others, and not every site accepts all of the credit cards listed above for depositing. Be sure to check each site’s individual banking options before depositing or withdrawing.
You’ll also want to make note of minimums or maximums, expected wait times for withdrawals — some are instantaneous, some take a few days — and any other banking-related policies.
While the real-money options are plentiful in New Jersey, players can also play poker on “sweepstakes” sites. The most popular of these is Global Poker, currently available in 49 US states.
For New Jersey players, a sweepstakes site does make it possible to compete in a larger pool of players. However some will always prefer playing on real-money, regulated sites — especially since New Jersey has so many from which to choose.
Below are some common questions and answers related to New Jersey online poker.
Yes. Real-money online poker is legal in New Jersey as long as you are playing on a regulated NJ online poker site. Sweepstakes online poker is legal as well.
Similar to poker in brick-and-mortar casinos, players in New Jersey must be at least 21 years old to play on a real-money online poker site.
Anyone who is at least 21 can sign up for an account at a NJ online poker site and even deposit funds. However in order actually to play on the site, players must be physically located within the state.
Sites use geolocation technology to ensure players are located in NJ when they play.
The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE) oversees all types of gambling in the state, including online poker.
Yes. After other sites enjoyed a two-plus year head start, PokerStars returned to New Jersey in 2016 with a fully legal and regulated real-money online poker site.
Yes. Thanks to a multi-state poker compact approved by regulators in New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware, players can play against each other in a shared player pool on WSOP and 888 Poker sites.
Sweepstakes online poker sites like Global Poker also allow players from different states all to play against each other.
Only brick-and-mortar casinos in New Jersey can apply for and obtain Internet Gaming Permits, which allow them to run online casinos, sportsbooks, and poker rooms. The casinos also partner with technology providers who themselves must be licensed by NJ regulators.
Every casino with an Internet Gaming Permit can operate multiple online gambling sites — including multiple online poker sites — under distinct brands.
There are nine casinos in Atlantic City at present. Three of them provide licenses that are being used to operate one or more online poker rooms:
Taking Borgata as an example, their license enables them to operate multiple online poker sites — partypoker NJ, Borgata Poker NJ, BetMGM Poker NJ (all on the partypoker network), plus Pala Poker. Borgata additionally runs other online gambling sites, including an eponymous online casino.
Of the other Atlantic City casinos, each of the following have Interactive Gaming Permits as well:
All four of these licensees operate online casinos, but none currently offers poker. Given the limited liquidity in the state — even taking into account the potential for multi-state compacts — it is probably unlikely we will see too many more online poker rooms opening up in New Jersey in the near future.
Between the three major poker networks, New Jersey online poker sites have consistently earned around $1.6-1.8 million per month between them over the last couple of years. WSOP/888 poker has been the market leader of late, followed by PokerStars NJ and partypoker NJ.
Online poker operators pay a tax rate of 15% on gross revenue plus another 2.5% for Investment Alternative Tax Obligations. According to the PlayNJ, the state’s online poker sites generated about $3.5 million in tax revenue in 2019.