In first year, Christie expects $1 billion from online gambling

The Division of Gaming Enforcement will release its first report next month on revenue from online gambling in New Jersey. It’s unclear just how much money the Internet wagering will generate.

Gov. Chris Christie is sticking with projections that Atlantic City casino revenues in the first year of online gaming will exceed a billion dollars even though analysts at Fitch Ratings and Moody’s Investors Service expect it will be less than half that amount.

The governor’s estimates are overly optimistic and will force adjustments to the state budget, warned Senate President Steve Sweeney Monday.

“We’ll wind up like we do with all budgets. As we’re looking right now, there a hole of a hundred and some million dollars. We expect that to grow,” said Sweeney, D-Gloucester. “We’ll get down to work with the administration seeing where we can curtail costs.”

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So far, more than 51,000 accounts have been set up by people who want to make those online bets.

Hundreds of thousands of New Jersey residents have been playing poker on offshore wagering sites, and he does not expect they’ll rush to sign up to play on the New Jersey sites, said Sen. Ray Lesniak, D-Union.

Israel Posner, the executive director of the Institute of Gaming, Hospitality, and Tourism at Richard Stockton College, sees online gaming as a way for casinos to connect with customers and use loyalty clubs to get bettors to return to Atlantic City.

“If you’re playing for ‘X’ number of hours while you’re anywhere up in Central or North Jersey, your opportunity to redeem those points by coming to a show, coming in for a weekend, coming to some restaurants in Atlantic City, brings people that you’re connecting to via the Internet back to your property,” Posner said.

Posner said he expects the word to get out with increased advertising as the system’s operators are satisfied the websites are meeting customers’ expectations.

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