NJ Gets Ready for Online Gambling

October 23, 2013

By Brenda Flanagan
NJ Today

It’s a whole new angle on casino gambling. Log on, pick a game, place your bet and you’ll get to play slots, blackjack, craps, any game offered by Atlantic City casinos — all online. It kicks off next month, and we found some gambling fans eager to roll those digital dice. Why?

“The ease of it. That’s why the lottery’s so popular. You can go to any store and get a lottery ticket,” said.

“Oh yeah if I’m in town, I’m definitely gonna try some gaming while I’m here,” said.

“I think it’s not gonna do well because people want to feel the cards in their hands,” said.

Currently, Nevada offers online poker. No other state operates a fully digital casino industry that’s licensed, regulated and taxed. That’s why New Jersey Sen. Ray Lesniak sponsored legislation to create online gambling in New Jersey.

“Nevada only has poker. We have everything,” Lesniak said. “Hundreds of thousands of people in New Jersey play poker online already, except that money’s going offshore. Now it’s going to be going to our casinos and into our state treasury.”

Lesniak estimates online casino gambling will generate almost $100 million in tax revenues this fiscal year. Atlantic City’s casino profits have dropped precipitously during the Great recession and online gaming could infuse the industry with some much-needed winnings.

Five Atlantic City casinos have so far been awarded state gaming permits — Golden Nugget, Borgata, Tropicana, Trump Plaza and Trump Taj Mahal. They’ll partner with online gaming companies to run their digital games.

Online casino gamblers have to register a credit card and gaming enforcement officials say if they notice a pattern suggesting compulsive behavior they’ll intervene.

Another rule — you have to be in New Jersey to play. In a few weeks, participating Atlantic City casinos will roll out online gaming with a so-called “soft launch” — carefully controlled and monitored. Gaming officials will look for glitches.

“Just to get the kinks out to make sure security’s in place so problems like with the Obamacare rollout doesn’t happen here,” Lesniak said.

They’ll also be watching Delaware — the only other state planning to introduce its own version of internet casino gaming — next week. Lesniak says New Jersey could lead the way.

“And we are already going to other states — saying sign up with us, don’t set up your own system, it’s too expensive. You don’t have the experience, you don’t have the regulatory. Come with us. We’ll share revenues,” said Lesniak.

Odds are, online casinos in New Jersey will kick off Nov. 26 — Thanksgiving week.