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Can You Bet on MLS in New Jersey?


From humble beginnings in 2013 to a booming industry generating billions in revenue, New Jersey’s online gambling sector has been nothing short of a remarkable success story.

As early adopters of legal online sports betting, MLS fans here have been able to wager on the league for much longer than most other states, although there are strict laws in place to regulate the activity.

As more states across the U.S. look to legalize online gambling, New Jersey’s journey offers invaluable insights and a shining example of how to strike the delicate balance between embracing the digital revolution and addressing the social challenges that inevitably come with it.

A Brief History of Online Gambling in New Jersey

The inception of online gambling in the Garden State dates back to November 2013, although it had been a destination for brick and mortar casino players since the late 1970s. For a time, Atlantic City even rivalled Las Vegas as the gambling capital of the US.

As far as sports betting – and especially online sports betting – was concerned though, it was slim pickings.

Then, the 2013 bill was passed allowing casinos to offer online platforms for customers to play their games, which opened the door for sports betting a few short years later.

Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in 2018, New Jersey was quick to capitalize on the opportunity. The state swiftly legalized sports betting, and by August of that year, the first online sports bets were placed.

It was actually Governor Phil Murphy who placed the first online sports bet in New Jersey, he put $20 on Germany winning the World Cup and the NJ Devils winning the Stanley Cup. He lost.

Gaming and betting are key industries for the state, contributing millions in tax dollars, and are a constant target for statesmen and women looking to raise funds too, creating frequent friction between the industry and elected representatives.

Extending the Online Betting Law

In September 2022, the New Jersey Senate and State Assembly held committee hearings on a proposed 10-year extension of the state’s online gaming law.

The bill, known as SENATE No. 3075, advanced unanimously to the next step in the legislative process. The extension of the iGaming law then underwent several additional rounds of tweaks and amendments, before state lawmakers unexpectedly cut the term to just 2 years.

This created something of a legal tug of war, as people made the point that investment would be hard to come by with such a short time horizon, and others accusing lawmakers of using the short extension as leverage to raise taxes on gambling later on. IN the end, a 5 year extension was agreed, which will be up in 2028.

Current Sports Betting Rules

New Jersey Betting Rules

New Jersey residents and visitors can place bets on MLS games through various channels, such as online sportsbooks, mobile betting apps, and brick-and-mortar sportsbooks located at casinos and racetracks.

There are no restrictions on the types of bets you can make there, but there are regulations to keep betting safe and responsible.

  1. Age requirement: Bettors must be at least 21 years old to legally place bets on MLS games.
  2. Location: Only individuals located within the state borders of New Jersey can place bets on MLS games through licensed online sportsbooks, mobile betting apps, or brick-and-mortar sportsbooks at casinos and racetracks. Geolocation technology is used to ensure bettors are within state lines when placing bets.
  3. Responsible gambling: New Jersey enforces strict regulations to promote responsible gambling and protect bettors. This includes self-exclusion programs, deposit limits, and other tools to help bettors maintain control of their gambling activities.
  4. Taxes on winnings: Bettors are responsible for reporting their gambling winnings and paying the appropriate taxes. In general, gambling winnings are subject to federal income tax, and the state also imposes state taxes on winnings over a certain threshold. It’s 3% for sports betting, but there are certain people trying to raise it to 7%.

Please note that the specific rules and regulations may change over time, so to stay updated on the latest information, visit the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement’s website or consult with the sportsbook you intend to use.

Which MLS Teams are in New Jersey?

New York Red Bulls Betting
From New York Red Bulls

New Jerseyans who are soccer fans might be a little confused by the name of their local MLS team.

It is the New York Red Bulls who reside in New Jersey, so why are they called the New York Red Bulls? Well, the club may be based in New Jersey, but their part of New Jersey is also part of the New York metropolitan area, which you might know better as the tri-state area.

In fact, when the team was founded back in 1994, they were known as the New York/New Jersey MetroStars. Not a brilliant name I’m sure you will agree, but it demonstrates the club was always a cross state establishment.

Fun fact: The MetroStars signed the first ever MLS player, Tab Ramos.

The MetroStars began life playing at Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey, a stadium they shared with NFL teams the New York Giants and the New York Jets. However, when the stadium was scheduled for demolition in 2010 they needed a new home.

Since the club had been taken over by Red Bull in 2006, who had completely rebranded them, finding somewhere else to play their games was not a huge issue. In fact,  a soccer specific stadium had been in the planning for years before Red Bull came along, but it was they who got things moving again after years of delays.

The new stadium opened in March 2010, and was obviously named after the brand that owned the team and the stadium.

Despite having been around since the MLS was formed, New York Red Bulls had to wait 18 years to win anything. Although they had finished top of their conference twice, it wasn’t until 2013 that the Red Bulls won their first MLS Cup. This began a period of dominance (the Bradley Wright-Phillips era), where they won the cup 3 times in 6 years, their last coming in 2018.

During this time, Red Bulls fans will have been some of the only MLS fans who were able to bet on their team thanks to the relaxed betting laws in New Jersey.