New Jersey’s Growing Influence in the Entertainment Landscape

When we think of the entertainment hotbeds of America our minds tend to jump to LA or New York, and while these are certainly standouts, they illustrate just two parts of the total picture. Much more underappreciated, and the focus of this article is the Garden State of New Jersey. From video games to TV series, and the casino industry, New Jersey is one of America’s hidden gems, and it’s looking to only grow bigger.

Video Games

Worth even more than the contemporary movie box office, it’s only natural that some video games would eventually find a home in New Jersey. Despite being a smaller state, the culture and history of New Jersey have made it a prime target for exploration, with some of the games set in the area coming from the most influential franchises in history.

One of the earlier examples of this is found in Tony Hawk’s Underground for the PlayStation 2. Released in 2003, this was the first Tony Hawk’s game to include a full-fledged story mode. Starting in suburban New Jersey, Underground followed the main player’s custom-made skater as they work their way from obscurity to become a world-famous pro. It was a huge step forward for the series, and the fantastic locational interpretations played a big part in that.

Of more stylistic notoriety were the first two titles in the Max Payne series. As crime-thriller games leaning heavily on classic detective noir history, Max Payne one and two are still held up as some of the best games of all time. Reflecting an exaggerated seedy underbelly of New Jersey’s organized criminal elements, these games set a standard in storytelling that few have been able to match, even 20 years later.


As with video games, the representation that Jersey sees in the realms of TV is surprisingly varied. Arguably the most famous of these is The Sopranos, which mainly takes place in Essex County. Likely in need of no introduction, The Sopranos has been often been ranked as one of the best series of all time for its depiction of mob-based violence, and the effect that it can have on the gangster’s families and communities. Continued by a prequel named The Many Saints of Newark, fans are hoping the new entry can live up to the lofty standards set by the original.

Outside of crime (at least for the most part), is the much-loved medical-drama series of House M.D. Set in the fictional Princeton–Plainsboro Teaching Hospital, House was based on the eponymous and misanthropic medical genius Gregory House with his weekly attempts to solve rare medical events. Bolstered by fantastic cast chemistry and the undeniable acting talents of Hugh Laurie, House is one of those shows that has firmly worked its way into the entertainment zeitgeist, despite being off the air for nearly a decade.


063” (CC BY 2.0) by Xside

Perhaps less appreciable to the general population of New Jersey is the ‘reality’ TV series of Jersey Shore. Set in Seaside Heights, this show gained international attention for its representation of a sad indictment of America’s vapid party culture. Though only running for six seasons, the influence and infamy of the show live on, and for many New Jersey residents, not in a good way.

Casinos and iGaming

With a total of 23 casinos within its borders, NJ is no stranger to the gambling market. With famous names like the Golden Nugget and the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, the state is often considered one of the best places to gamble in the entire country, second only to Las Vegas. Far from being complacent, the state has enjoyed considerable growth in the gambling industry in the last few years. Most recently indicated by a record-setting July that brought in $71.3 million in sports betting revenue, and a June before that seeing a 302.7% on-year increase in revenue to $392.8m, NJ physical gambling arena is only growing bigger.

Similar growth applies to the iGaming marketplace, where New Jersey casinos online have driven the state to become one of the most successful in the digital gambling sphere. Marked by a wide range of specials and bonuses like free spins and deposit matches, this arm of the casino market has easily proven itself the match of its physical cousin. Tied so inextricably to ever-growing online interaction, the expansion of this gambling front is all but guaranteed.


Atlantic City Boardwalk – New Jersey” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Dougtone

New Jersey might not be one of the most ostentatious states, but that doesn’t indicate any lack of entertainment quality and interest. Home to some of the most popular forms of entertainment in the entire world, NJ punches well above its weight and looks to continue this pattern into the 2020s and beyond. Let’s just hope for more Sopranos and Max Paynes, and maybe a little less Jersey Shores.