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.

Online Gambling Versus Traditional Gambling

There are many different forms of gambling from betting at the horse races or for your favourite sports teams or trying your chance at a casino game. And with today’s age of the computer you can gamble online at any of the many online sporting or casino websites. So how does online gambling compare to traditional gambling.

For starters, online gambling can be done in the comfort of your own home providing you have a computer with an active internet connection and use of a credit or debit card. And so there is little or no travel involved. Traditional gambling requires travel to the gambling site. And many people have enjoyed a gambling opportunity at Las Vegas or Atlantic City or just at their local casino or race track.

Secondly, you have to join up with the gambling website you are interested which means filling in a form and is usually free. You do not have to join or fill in any of your details with traditional gambling.

Thirdly, you can concentrate completely on your online game because there are no noisy people, no cigarette smoke and no drunken people which could annoy you. You have the peace and quiet of your own home if you desire. However with traditional gambling you are around like minded people doing the same thing and this creates atmosphere. It is a chance to get out and socialise with friends and have an enjoyable outing.

Fourthly, as each online website is competing against each other then they offer bonuses in order to entice people to join their website. And the bonuses can be large depending on the amount of money you bid eg large amounts of money or free holiday somewhere.
Do you get bonuses at traditional gambling locations? No

Fifthly, with online gambling websites, you are not obliged to tip employees. In real casinos for example, you will be obliged to tip waiters, dealers and other employees for a better service. This however could vary between different countries.

Sixthly, the online casino gambling experience may even surpass the physical casino experience as they have very strict rules and regulations.

Lastly, on online gambling websites your money is safe in the account you set up as they have high security. This is as long as you have taken your own safety precautions with antispyware and antivirus protection installed on your computer and that you have joined a licensed and regulated online gambling website. With traditional gambling you could run the risk of your money being stolen, so you just need to look after your money carefully.

These are the seven points comparing online gambling with traditional gambling. They each have a place depending on whether you want to go out for the night with friends or gamble quietly in your own home for as little or long as you like.

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.