New Jersey iGaming

New Jersey is officially in the iGaming industry now; revenue projections vary widely though.

New Jersey’s first week in the wonderful world of legal and regulated online casinos appears to have gone pretty well.

Although unaudited by the state’s Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE), the unofficial word is that 13 new casino sites – operated under the auspices of Atlantic City’s land casinos with help from their online gaming partners – saw the creation of some 37, 277 Internet gaming accounts to date. Not only that, but online poker tournaments are already a thing again; PartyPoker held the distinction of first in this category with a $50K Guaranteed event that saw someone with the online handle of “MikeCasino” take home the $8,050 first prize for the $200 buy-in event that had 173 players.

Not quite as dazzling as UK online player David ‘sluggy27’ Vamplew’s $111,768.04 win in a Full Tilt Poker Online Series (FTOPS), where he beat out 2,329 players in a legal Euro tourney, but it’s a start.

“This was significant as my first Sunday tournament in New Jersey. I moved to Mexico to get involved with online Sundays so it is great to be back for it and to be fully licensed and regulated. There was an overlay on PartyPoker this weekend, but that is only good news for players – it means more money for fewer players!” said PartyPoker aficionado Jamie Kersetter, who threw a party to celebrate both being back home and back online on Sunday.

Bobby Oboodi, who joined the tournament from Morris Hills, New Jersey, didn’t cash, but was excited to see legal online poker available on an ongoing basis nonetheless.

“I didn’t get off to the start I wanted, but it is brilliant that poker has come home to New Jersey.  I cannot wait to see what the coming weeks bring,” said Oboodi.

Geo and Banking Issues Remain

Anyone located within the state’s borders -whether an actual New Jersey resident or not – is allowed to access the online casino sites. So far, the only problematic issues have been some geolocation services that are being a tad overzealous in their markings of where state borders technically begin and end – a problem that kept some technically legal players from being able to access and  create online accounts – and banking issues involving financial institutions that have not yet reconfigured to accept now legal deposits and payments from Garden State players. It’s expected that both these issues will be problem-solved over time.

In fact, the CEO of GeoComply, Anna  Sainsbury, noted that New Jersey’s geo-issues were 25 percent less troublesome than Nevada’s initial ones of the same genre earlier this year when that state launched legal online poker first, so the technology is already being refined.

But the man perhaps most grateful to have survived Week One is David Rebuck, who heads up the DGE.

“I’m very tired, because for the last seven days, all I’ve been doing is worrying this was going to crash,” noted Rebuck.

No, sir, that’s only government-created sites that have no financial repercussions to worry about and  that are created by IT federal barnacle businesses. You were always safe there.

Widely Varying Revenue Projections

By January, we should have more concrete information on the financial and other success of the websites being run by the Borgata Hotel, Trump Taj Mahal and Trump Plaza, Tropicana, Bally’s and Caesars in Atlantic City; that’s when the first official number-crunching reports will  be released.

The projections are pretty disparate as to what those numbers are likely to be, however. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is seeing the magic figure of $1 billion by as early as July 1st, 2014 – a figure that would in turn bring him $180 million in state  tax revenues. But Moody’s – a credit rating firm that analyzes industry data – says a more likely figure would be in the $250-500 million gross earnings range for New Jersey’s online sites, and another analyst, Fitch Ratings, has their sites on the sites even lower, coming in with projections of $200-300 million for the first six months+ of Internet casino play in New Jersey.

Although land gaming pulls in close to $2.8 billion each year, it’s almost half what it did in business seven years ago before the recession, Hurricane Sandy, and several neighboring states offering competition with their own brick-and-mortar casinos. With the new iGaming add-ons, it’s hoped it will be the train that brings more money and customers to the gambling station for all of Atlantic City’s gaming properties.

Depending on how it all plays out, it could compel other states that have been on the fence about legalizing Internet poker, gambling, or both. Other states considering going online and looking at some form of legislation include California, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Pennsylvania and Texas. Several federal online laws are also on the roster for 2014, but their passage still appears to be a long shot, due to lobbies, factions and extremely disparate views on gambling in general and gambling online in particular.