Anyone who’s lived in or visited New Jersey for any length of time is almost certainly familiar with the gambling legacy the state shares with Las Vegas. Home of Atlantic City, the sprawling brick-and-mortar casino landscape of New Jersey draws visitors from far-and-wide, and looks to be trying to add to its repertoire of gaming halls by opening up its doors to cyberspace. Online casino gamers everywhere have been anticipating this move for quite some time now, and lawmakers have finally obliged them – the extra revenue from taxing profits probably has a lot to do with it.
Since early December of 2013, online gamblers have been able to get into sites accepting US players from the comfort of their own homes, instead of making the sometimes-hectic journey to a land-based casino. The security is top-notch, since many of the online portals are actually run by operators based in Atlantic City, and not some shady, offshore and unregistered umbrella corp. Playing for money in cyberspace has never been more secure, and New Jersey may be opening up the doors for the rest of the nation to follow suit.
Residents have expressed great satisfaction at the developments. Says lifelong New Jersey resident Stan Rickard: “All there’s been up till now is talk amongst lawmakers, but Tuesday will mark the day action was taken. I’ve been waiting for this all my life.” Much like Mr. Rickard, many people in town looked forward to logging into their Smart-phones and laptops to finally play for real money.
Of course, not everyone has been so eager to see this day, which New Jersey politicians lobbied for in order to lift most of the previous restrictions limiting online video poker play. It isn’t hard to predict, however, that most people will make a beeline for the always popular slot machines. Take Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson, for example, who stands staunchly in the camp of the dissenters. Adelson would like very much for the federal government to step in to ban gambling decisions like this on the state level – possibly because of the traffic it would take away from physical casinos (based in Las Vegas).
Any dissenters, however, are fighting against a virtually unstoppable tide, coming at them on two fronts: resident will and tax revenue. Calculations show that the influx of poker players should ultimately generate hundreds of millions of tax dollars from their winnings, every single year. Another long-time New Jersey resident, Brandon Glass, expresses his desire to get back to easily playing poker online, from the living room or even restaurant on his tablet. “It’s almost surreal,” he says.
There’s even been support from New Jersey governor and possible presidential candidate Chris Christie. His office expressed their belief that tax revenue from online gambling can climb past a billion dollars in just a couple of summers, which is also part of the reason he has such high expectations for the online gambling industry in general – as long as it upholds the standards of regulation.
In keeping with the optimism so far displayed by state legislators and interviewed residents, New Jersey online casinos counted 37,000 new accounts registered within the first 5 days after they went live. Not to mention that the counting system actually underreports the total number, so it is expected to be even higher. This is probably balanced out, however, by the number of gamblers who’ve almost certainly created more than a single account, so everything likely averages out to the close to the reported. Bigger online providers like Betfair are all primed and ready to take advantage of the coming wave, and have started with TV commercials and dazzling promotional welcome bonuses – such as hours of free play for just a single deposit commitment. There’s little question that New Jersey is ushering in a new gambling age, where player recruitment wars will take place in cyberspace, instead of under the brilliant lights of ground-based casinos.