NJ Starts Trial Run for Online Gambling

NJ Spotlight News | November 21, 2013
While the full rollout of online gaming is expected to begin Nov. 26, "soft play" has begun.

By Lauren Wanko

The trial run for online gaming in New Jersey starts today and the reactions are mixed.

“I think it’s a good idea. I think it will help tax revenues in New Jersey,” said Ocean Grove resident Greg Brady.

“I think it’s an absolutely awful idea,” said Ohio resident Kristin Hurley. “There’s enough places around here for people to lose their money without sitting in their own house.”

So far, seven Atlantic City casinos have applied for internet gaming permits. Six casinos completed the required testing and are now authorized to participate in the trial, called soft play.

You have to be in New Jersey to gamble online. The casinos are working with online security companies who created “digital fencing” near New Jersey’s borders to ensure people who are playing are in the Garden State.

“We’re kind of telling people if you live real close to the border there’s a chance you might not get in and we rather air on that side and make sure we’re not dealing with people outside the state,” said Steve Callender of Tropicana Casino and Resort.

Callender says if gamblers drive out of state while they’re playing, the system would shut down and turn back on only when gamblers returned to New Jersey.

“We have a triangulation with cell phones, so that the laptop you’re using on your computer when you try to log on your using your own computer we call you on your cell phone so we ping you we know exactly where you’re at,” said Callender.

Critics worry online gambling offers more opportunities for minors to play. Callender says players must provide documentation to verify their identity and some gamblers may have to sign up at the casino if any questions come up during process.

“Between password and system functionality, we’re in a good place. It doesn’t mean things aren’t going to leak out every once in a while. There’s gonna be something, it happens here as well. We’re very vigilant with it on our land-based casinos, and we will be the same way on our online casino,” Callender said.

Sen. Ray Lesniak is the sponsor of New Jersey’s internet gaming law.

“This is an industry on life support. It’s been bleeding revenue for years. This is an influx of new revenues and they’ll be able to market folks who gamble online with comps to come to Atlantic City,” Lesniak said.

Lesniak today announced legislation he says will bring New Jersey closer to becoming the Silicon Valley of internet gaming.

“Well I’m asking New Jersey to authorize international gaming licenses to people across the world who can do business here in New Jersey by going on sites here in New Jersey for internet gaming,” Lesniak said.

As for online gaming here in the Garden State, the test period is expected to last five days. Casino executives hope to fix any glitches. If the soft play is successful, the Division of Gaming Enforcement’s director will issue separate orders to each casino permit holder. Casinos hope to launch online gaming by Nov. 26.

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