New Jersey was the first state to legalize online poker all the way back in 2013. Today, the market is legal, regulated, and NJ residents can compete in live real-money poker tournaments every day of the week. There are three main operators in the state today, but our preferred poker app for 2021 is BetMGM poker.
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New Jersey jumped on the online poker bandwagon early, and online poker has been legal in the Garden State since 2013. All of the seven sites that currently accept real money poker wagering in New Jersey are tied to the Atlantic City land-based casinos, though only a few of the city’s nine casinos currently sponsor online-based poker rooms.
One of the unique features of New Jersey online poker is its inclusion in the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement. This currently ties Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware together, allowing people in those states to play together across state lines. There is hope that Pennsylvania, Michigan, and other states which have recently passed online poker laws will join as well, creating a pool of tens of millions of potential players.
Currently, the Borgata, Harrah’s, and Resorts Casino are the only land-based casinos with online poker rooms. This is partly because only a handful of land-based poker rooms remain in Atlantic City and also because online poker hasn’t lived up to expectations.
Total rake remains over $2 million a month, but many had believed the numbers would be higher. In any case, there is fierce competition for players, which makes it difficult for new rooms to launch. On the other hand, it means great offers for both new and existing players.
Borgata Casino actually has four separate offerings. PartyPoker, BetMGM, and Borgata Poker is all basically different skins of the PartyPoker poker software, and all three fill a niche for one of the largest land-based poker rooms in the country.
Before the pandemic, the Borgata regularly spread 85 games, more when tournaments were in town, so it’s little surprise they dominate the online poker environment as well. They also sponsor the Pala Poker site, which is run on proprietary software by a California Indian Tribe.
Harrah’s Casino Resort in Atlantic City is owned by Caesar’s Inc and sponsors the wildly popular WSOP online poker app. Caesar’s Interactive owns the rights to the WSOP app and has licensed 888’s poker platform as its software provider in Nevada, Delaware, and elsewhere. That deal also entitles the 888 online poker app to be sponsored by Harrah’s. They also share some of their player pools on select cash and tournament games, which can add liquidity and players to both of their offerings.
Resorts Casino Hotel partnered with PokerStars. Almost certainly the biggest online poker platform in the world. At one point they controlled more than two-thirds of the global market. While this doesn’t translate into a huge opportunity currently, if more and more states are added to the MSIGA, there is a sense that PokerStars dominance in markets like Michigan and Pennsylvania could help them in New Jersey, as they would be able to offer bigger tournaments and more cash games with the larger entrant pool provided by these other populous states.
As of 2021, the three casinos have achieved almost parity in terms of New Jersey market share. Resorts with its one partner and skin in Poker Stars, generally trails the other two by a couple of percentage points, while Borgata with its four skins and two separate partners generally dominates by just a point or two, though plucky Caesar’s entrants 888 and WSOP occasionally take the top spot.
You don’t have to be a New Jersey resident to sign up at any of New Jersey’s online poker rooms, but you must be 21 and present in the state while you are playing. You are welcome to get an account set up and ready to go ahead of time, for instance perhaps you have your eye on a big WSOP tourney in the coming months. You can make your hotel reservation, book your flight, and sign up and deposit money to your account from anywhere. Then when you get to New Jersey, you are good to go.
Opening an account is simple, with a couple of important rules. Since Online Poker is legal in New Jersey, and the State both licenses and heavily regulates the industry, you can use any credit or debit card to set up your account. This is by far the easiest and quickest way, but most sites will accept Paypal or other e-wallet type accounts if you don’t have a credit or debit card. Bank wires or even cash deposits with participating retailers can even be used, but are not recommended.
Since the Poker Sites will need to verify your age and identity, make sure you have valid identification that exactly matches your name on either your payment cards or e-wallets. Remember that whatever deposit method you choose, that your withdrawal will go back to either that same exact card or e-wallet. Deposits, especially first-time deposits are not instant and may take several hours or more. Withdrawals are even longer and can take a day or more so plan ahead.
Now for the fun part; Where should you play? This is always going to be up to the individual poker player's needs. Some people love low-limit sit-and-goes, others want high-limit cash games. Some folks only play limit hold 'em, others want some exotic Omaha variant. But most of the Poker rooms have made this a little easier with no deposit bonuses.
A no deposit bonus allows you to open an account without putting up any of your money quite yet. You can take the site out for a test spin. See if they have that hard-to-find game you love, take a look at their tourney schedules. If you're going to play mobile on your phone, get a good look at graphics and gameplay. If multigame is your thing, see how easy it is to toggle through windows. By signing up for several different sites, you can figure out which one is going to work best for your style of play.
Just remember that most of these bonuses will come with time restrictions and high play-through. It’s best not to think of them as free money and more as a way to get a close-up look at what sets each skin and software provider apart.
Whatever Poker Game is your thing, there’s a good chance you can find it on one of these sites.