$8.4 million is disappointing start to online gaming in N.J.

 A screen capture of an online slots game. (Image via tropicanacasino.com)

A screen capture of an online slots game. (Image via tropicanacasino.com)

In its first few weeks, online gaming yielded $8.4 million — a disappointment for the state of New Jersey.

After another bad year for Atlantic City casinos, Gov. Chris Christie had predicted that online wagers would help to revive the state’s struggling industry. State officials had forecast projected of up to $1 billion by the June 30 end of the fiscal year, bringing a small windfall to the state treasury.

The initial volume of $8.4 million over the first five weeks suggests again that the numbers could fall far short of the state’s expectations.

Even as the new gaming option catches on, “down the road we’re still never going to make the results that Gov. Christie was talking about because it’s going to be kind of impossible,” said analyst Alan Woinski of Gaming USA Corp. “Either he was misled about how these casinos actually generate revenue or he was living in a dream world.”

The most popular game with online gamblers is poker, but Woinski explained that’s not a big moneymaker for casinos.

And most banks still don’t allow customers to use their credit cards at online gaming parlors, he said, and having to make direct transfers from their bank accounts can turn off casual players.

Woinski has much more modest expectations for the virtual Atlantic City, estimating a peak of between $15 million to $20 million a month.

Bricks-and-mortar Atlantic City also had a disappointing finish to 2013. Overall, gaming revenues fell to $2.9 billion in 2013, down from $3.1 billion in 2012.

List of Atlantic City casino’s offering internet gambling within New Jersey’s borders

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