It’s been a long wait, but as expected, New Jersey’s venture into the world of Internet gambling will begin on November 26, allowing state residents to begin playing their favorite casino games online just in time for Thanksgiving.
Soft Launch First
According to New Jersey’s Gaming Enforcement Division, Atlantic City’s 12 casinos will be able to begin a “soft play” launch on November 21. At that point, only a limited number of invited guests will be able to play on the sites. Assuming that all goes well with the sites in that period, then full scope, real money online gambling will begin at 9 a.m. local time on the 26th.
The rules for playing on New Jersey’s gambling sites will be simple. In order to play, users will have to be physically located within New Jersey, but are not required to live there. All players will have to be at least 21 years of age.
So far, nine of the 12 casinos in Atlantic City have announced partnerships with software providers that will allow them to launch their Internet casinos, while a 10th – the Trump Plaza – is rumored to have partner with Betfair, though that has yet to be confirmed.
Among the confirmed partnerships, the Borgata is known to be working with bwin.party, while Caesars Entertainment – which owns four Atlantic City properties – will be partnering with 888 Holdings. Meanwhile, Resorts Casino Hotel has announced a partnership with PokerStars, while the Taj Mahal will use Ultimate Gaming, which already has experience now running the first online poker site to hit in Nevada (Caesars Interactive has now launched a second site there). Meanwhile, the Tropicana Casino and Resort will partner with Gamesys Limited. Finally, the Golden Nugget has announced that it will be working with Bally Technologies.
Dropping Revenues for AC Land Casinos
The online gambling launch will come as a welcome opportunity for the struggling Atlantic City casino gambling industry. In 2006, Atlantic City’s gambling revenues peaked at an all-time high of $5.2 billion. But in the last few years, a number of new casino properties in Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland and other regionally competitive locations have chipped away at that revenue, which stood at just over $3 billion last year and could fall below that mark in 2013. This fall became all the more precipitous after Hurricane Sandy caused heavy damage to the New Jersey shore in late 2012. That has led to a loss of jobs and tax revenue for the state.
Not everyone is convinced that online gambling will make much of an impact. Some are concerned that it may just shift players who normally came to gamble in the casino to online gaming, which could even be harmful, as they will not be purchasing hotel rooms and food or shopping at the casino resorts. But most industry officials believe the net impact will be positive, providing much needed revenue for the floundering casinos there.
New Jersey’s Internet gambling law was passed by both houses and signed into law by Governor Chris Christie earlier this year. That came after Christie had previously vetoed a similar law the year before, citing concerns that the bill might not pass constitutional muster. But the new version of the law was approved after Christie first issued a conditional veto, which allowed legislators to make some minor changes to the bill, including requiring it to expire in a decade so that legislators would have an opportunity to debate its merits again in ten years.