Online Gambling in Atlantic City

For better or for worse, online gambling is coming to New Jersey.

In late February, Chris Christie officially signed into law a bill that legalized internet gambling in Atlantic City.

Initially the bill was vetoed by the Governor because of issues surrounding transparency and taxes. Lawmakers adjusted the text and the amended bill passed by an overwhelming majority in the legislature and earned Christie’s seal of approval.

Here are the basics of the bill:

- Casinos located in Atlantic City will be able to apply for a license to offer online gambling. Only the twelve official Atlantic City casinos will be eligible for the license. No other organizations can offer internet gambling, and face stiff fines if they do. All facilities used for the operation of internet gambling must be located within city limits; only bets that are received by a server in Atlantic City will be legal.

- Players must be “physically present” in New Jersey to place wagers. In the future, New Jersey may develop agreements with other states where internet gambling is legal to permit out-of-state gambling. The casino’s equipment must verify players’ locations before accepting wagers.

- Any games available to play in the casinos can be played online. (For comparison, Nevada only allows poker.) As of now, sports betting will not be protected by this bill, although the state of New Jersey is trying to fight the federal statute barring the legalization of sports betting.

- The bill has all kinds of provisions to keep gambling addiction at bay, such as requiring the prominent display of the 1-800-GAMBLER hotline number, a way to set maximum bets and losses over a certain period of time, and tracking player losses to identify and limit users who may demonstrate addictive gambling behavior.

- Revenue from online gambling will carry a 15% tax. The Christie administration states that about $180 million in revenue for the state will be generated from this tax, but some analysts think this number is seriously overestimated.

The official regulations, which the bill required the Division of Gaming Enforcement to produce, were released on June 3, and are subject to a “public comment period” until August 2 before being finalized. These rules include details such as how a casino acquires the appropriate licenses and procedures for maintaining network security on gambling sites.

So, will online gambling actually benefit the state?

The Good

Revenues from Atlantic City casinos have been on the decline for the past seven years, and online gambling could be what saves the failing casinos. Since 2006, casino revenue has dropped from $5.2 billion to around $3 billion. Online gambling could be a $500 million to $1 billion industry in New Jersey, which may be enough to keep struggling casinos afloat and save jobs in Atlantic City. Further, even though estimates of tax revenue are all over the map, there is potential for online gambling to be a considerably valuable source of money for the state. The casinos will also have to pay a tax to the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, which will provide further assistance to struggling casinos in Atlantic City.

For the player, low overhead costs mean better prizes and more opportunities to play. Casinos can incent players with free “chips” that have minimal costs for them but give players more opportunities to play and win. The convenience of gambling online allows players to play more with less travel.

BAD:

One of the goals of the bill is supposedly to attract more people to visit the brick-and-mortar casinos, but it is hard to say if online gambling will actually lead to this outcome. One could speculate it could even cause people to go to the casinos less (However, this seems unlikely; the social element and the free drinks are lost in online gambling. Also, research indicates that, at least with poker, internet gaming does not reduce casino gaming.) Advertising for the host casino will be allowed on the online gambling sites, which could possibly encourage people to visit the casino but could also be annoying for players.

Online gambling could be seriously devastating for people who have gambling addictions, or even cause people to develop them, raising financial and moral concerns. Even with all the preventative steps the bill requires, it will definitely be much harder to cut off compulsive gamblers if they can place bets anywhere with an internet connection.

Regardless, it is going to be a while before the casinos can actually kick off their online gambling offerings. The regulations need to be finalized and casinos need to apply for licensure and develop their gambling websites. This means the casinos will not be enjoying this new source of revenue during the 2013 summer season, which could be Atlantic City’s toughest season ever following recovery from Hurricane Sandy.

New Zealand’s Participation in Online Gambling

New Zealand and Australia are popular destinations for online casino and online gambling developers. These two countries present a market full of existing gambling fans, and online companies want to capitalize on the opportunity. Internet gambling has already become quite popular in New Zealand, but few facts are known this particular market, as the activity has yet to be fully regulated.

The Problem Gambling Foundation of New Zealand has delved into the issue, publishing a fact sheet which illustrates the popularity of online gambling in the country. According to the report, 8% to 10% of New Zealand residents take part in some form of online gambling. This includes playing casino games on the internet or via mobile phones. Television gambling is also included in the category.

Very little is known about New Zealand’s online gambling market at the moment, but some studies have revealed a bit of insight. For example, it seems that Maori individuals are more likely to gamble online as 17% of all online gamblers in the country are of that particular descent. Other studies indicate that young males of Asian descent are also likely to participate in online gambling.

The country’s current online gambling laws state that the only companies which are able to offer internet gambling services to residents are those regulated by the government. As it stands, the only two operators allowed to do so are TAB Corp and the New Zealand Lotteries Commission. It is not illegal for residents to take part in online roulette, online slots and other casino games offered by international operators, but those operators could face fines for offering their services in the country.

While New Zealand seems to have very strict guidelines about online gaming, things seem to be changing. For years, TAB Corp was the only company licensed for online gambling in the country, but the government has recently allowed the New Zealand Lotteries Commission to launch its own online gaming website. The New NZ Lotto website allows players to purchase tickets online and play other online casino games, a huge step forward for the New Zealand gambling market.

There is no word yet on whether or not the country will begin licensing foreign operators, but many residents continue to access offshore gambling websites. In an industry worth millions of dollars every year, it may be a wise choice for the New Zealand government to consider regulating all forms of online gambling activities.

What Countries Allow Online Gambling

The world of internet gambling is strictly regulated and it is important to first be aware of what countries allow online gambling before you start. Online casinos have experienced a steady growth in popularity over the past few years, with more and more people registering with sites in order to enjoy their favorite casino games.

You will find a few countries around the world where this practice is legal and many of them house servers that are accessible to people residing in countries where it is not. This means that if you live in a country where gambling online is banned, you might still be able to play by dialing into a server that is hosted outside of your country.

The United States of America

It is true that more and more countries are realizing the benefits of legalizing internet gambling and are actively taking steps toward this. However, the law governing the prohibition of internet gambling in America is somewhat unclear. The estimate is that approximately 70 percent of US citizens make up the internet gambling population and suffer little consequences because of it. It may be that the situation is difficult to monitor and regulate because gambling online happens in the privacy of your home and not in the public eye.

Online Gambling Around The World

You can do a simple search online to find out what countries allow online gambling. The list below reflects a few of these where online gambling is legal:

Australia
Belgium
Canada
France
Germany
Gibraltar
Hungary
Ireland
Italy
Liechtenstein
Macau
Malta
New Zealand
Panama
Philippines
Poland
Russia
Scandinavia
Singapore
Spain
Switzerland

Countries like Argentina, Mexico and a few Asian countries have all started the process of legalizing online gambling.

Enforcement and Regulation

Although the internet gambling industry is heavily regulated, experts admit that it is difficult to monitor because of its fairly anonymous nature. This poses a problem where online gambling is banned because it is virtually impossible to pinpoint players in the country who sign on from their homes. This begs the argument that why ban online gambling at all if it is so easily accessible and difficult to monitor? Regulation remains easier than prohibition in most cases and the trend seems to show that more and more countries are realizing this.

It is best to properly investigate what countries allow online gambling to ensure that you are on the right side of the law when enjoying your favorite casino games. This will also guarantee that you get to keep whatever winnings you make online.