This week, New Jersey may emerge as the third state in the U.S. to authorize internet gambling. New Jersey lawmakers are seeking to boost Atlantic City’s casinos by allowing tightly regulated online wagering. After conditionally vetoing the legislation on February 7, Governor Christie has indicated that he will sign off on the amended bill.
Nevada became the second state to pass legislation authorizing online gaming on Friday. Delaware legalized internet gambling in June 2012 and hopes to have an online gaming up and running by September 30.
“Internet gaming will be a crucial boost to Atlantic City as we continue our efforts to revitalize the area,” said state Senate President, Stephen Sweeney, in an email statement. “The economic benefits to the region will mean additional revenue, additional jobs, and additional growth.”
How it will work
Those who want to gamble via the internet will first need to set up an account with a casino offering online play. All accounts will be in the legal name of individual applicants who must establish proof of age and have a principal residence and email address. The state’s Division of Gaming Enforcement will license, regulate and enforce all aspects of authorized games done through the internet, said Christopher Donnelly, spokesperson for the Senate Majority Office.
After they are approved, gamblers will next need to fund that account using a credit or debit card before they can play. Casinos will not accept any wager that exceed deposited funds.
Holders of online gaming accounts will only be able to place bets while physically present in the state of New Jersey. However, one does not have to be a resident of New Jersey to participate in internet gaming. Whether hanging out in Haddonfield or Hoboken, all of New Jersey is fair game to any resident or visitor, so long as one has valid account and has a computer, tablet or smartphoone to visit the casino’s website. Gamblers will be able to play all current casino games, Donnelly said.
Casino employees, state employees, members of the Judiciary and Legislature, officers of Atlantic City and both the Governor and Lt. Governor will not be permitted to maintain an online gaming account under the legislation.
What about security
Dr. Israel Posner, Executive Director of the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality and Tourism at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, says many of the same measures available to banks to enable their customers to do online banking will be implemented by casinos for internet gaming. “The technology can really, at this point, determine where you are and who you are,” he noted of the geo-spatial mechanics.
The chief concern lies more with setting up of accounts, to verify identity and avoiding money laundering, Posner explained. Casinos will have an obligation to continually monitor their servers for security breaches. Consumers, too, will need to safeguard their passwords and use safe internet practices same as they would with any of their other online financial transactions.
What happens next
New Jersey lawmakers will vote on the amended bill this Tuesday, February 26. If the measure is passed, there will be a period of several months before online gaming will be available to the public, Posner said.
What it means for AC
Atlantic City’s once had a monopoly on legalized casino gambling in the eastern U.S. Over time, the city has watched its gaming industry decline as as neighboring states legalized gambling and opened their own casinos.
“The Atlantic City gaming industry is very much a destination gaming industry,” stated Posner. Part of that image banked heavily on the success of Revel Casino, which houses a host of celebrity chef restaurants, swimming pools, nightclubs, theaters, retail shopping and a spa. Revel announced plans to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last week. The casino will continue to operate as it restructures its debt.
Posner says internet gaming is a chance for New Jersey to recoup some of the lost convenience market, most of which is now online. This could result in “hundreds of millions of dollars” in revenue for the state, he asserted.
Internet gaming will also provide Atlantic City casinos an opportunity to bolster its tourism. An enlarged database of registered gamblers could be used as marketing tool to promote vacation deals and upcoming events. Casinos will likely also offer comps to online gamers such as invitations to play in tournaments with discounted hotel rates.
Over time, New jersey’s online gaming industry could seek to develop interstate expansion in the same way compacts have been set up for multi-state lotteries, Posner said.