Let’s face it: while Atlantic City’s casinos are happy to have the extra money coming in from online gambling, the new industry in New Jersey hasn’t met the state’s lofty expectations quite yet. But officials, analysts and casino executives say that this should change in 2014, in large part because they expect gambling through phones and other mobile devices to increase greatly in the coming year.
“Mobile applications will play an enormous piece of the puzzle in online wagering, which is why we are so positive and see so much upside in the months ahead,” said Borgata senior vice president Joe Lupo.
Android Users Can Access More Networks
At the Borgata – one of Atlantic City’s more successful casino operations – online gambling is a work in progress that has continued to expand since Internet gaming was launched in November. Just this week, access was expanded to allow users on Android cell phones to connect through 3G and 4G networks. Users already had the ability to connect when on a WiFi connection.
It will take a while for all of Atlantic City’s casinos – and all of New Jersey’s online gamblers – to connect to Internet gambling through their phones, though. Already, the availability of mobile gaming varies significantly from casino to casino, as state regulators must approve each mobile application on a case-by-case basis.
In order to gain approval, each app (and each phone system) must meet strict geolocation standards in order to ensure that those playing are actually present in New Jersey. This technology is so strict, in fact, that it has at times caused issues for those right inside the state’s borders. In addition, some cell phone networks are vulnerable to technology that hides the source of individual phones, which makes it more difficult to meet the approval standards.
Right now, the Borgata, Caesars Atlantic City, the Tropicana Casino and Resort, the Trump Plaza and the Trump Taj Mahal are all offering at least some level of mobile gaming to players. The Golden Nugget also plans to allow mobile gambling, beginning in March, and expects to get 20 percent of their Internet gaming revenues from mobile devices – a number that could rise to 50 percent within three years.
Mobile Players Waiting in the Wings
The increase in mobile gambling could help fuel a huge increase in the number of users at New Jersey’s online casinos and poker rooms this year. According to a poll from the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality and Tourism, only about 2.5 percent of New Jersey residents say that they’ve played on the sites so far. But a full 7 percent said they intended to try Internet gambling sometime during the next year. That could mean nearly three times as many players on the sites going forward, with much of that increase coming from mobile devices.
So far, the total revenues generated from Internet gaming has been below expectations for New Jersey, with about $9.5 million coming in during January. That could mean total revenues of well over $100 million this year, but that’s still far short of the estimates put forward by government officials before online gambling was approved in the state.
Still, there are signs that those revenue numbers will continue to grow: by the end of January, 197,782 accounts had been created on New Jersey gambling sites, a 27 percent increase from the mid-January total.