New Jersey Bill Allows Skill Contests

Under a law that some legislators deemed archaic, New Jersey residents were often barred from contests of skill, usually decided by judges, for fear the contest would be called a game of chance. A new bill approved by the New Jersey State Assembly clears up the confusion.

If Governor Chris Christie signs a new ball into law, New Jersey residents will no longer risk being called gamblers for entering a baking contest.

The bill changes a law—viewed by some legislators as archaic—which barred New Jersey residents from some contests of skill because they met the state’s criteria for a game of chance.

 The new bill allows participation in a contest of skill where a participant pays an entry fee for the opportunity to win money or something else of value without the participation being considered unlawful gambling.

“This addresses the reluctance of some contest sponsors to accept entries from New Jersey residents because of their belief doing so would violate New Jersey’s gambling laws,” said Assemblyman Tim Eustace, a sponsor of the bill. “As it stands now, New Jersey residents are barred from participating in anything even as simple as a baking or photography contest. The confusion on this point is apparently the result of a misinterpretation of New Jersey case law that addresses gambling, so let’s clear this up and bring some common sense.”

Under the bill, the term “contest of skill” is defined to mean any contest where the winner or winners are selected solely on the quality of an entry in the contest as determined by a panel of judges using uniform criteria to assess the quality of entries. However, a “contest of skill” does not include any contest, game, pool, gaming scheme or gaming device in which the outcome depends in a material degree upon an element of chance.

The bill passed the Assembly 78-0 and now heads to Governor Christie for his signature.