Eyes on New Jersey as state legalizes online gambling

Last week, the State of New Jersey launched its first online casinos. As one of the first three states to legalize online gambling in the United States, following Delaware and Nevada, eyes are currently on New Jersey because it is the most heavily populated state to allow Internet gambling.

If it succeeds, up to 18 additional states may pass similar laws.

New Jersey’s decision

According to the New York Times, Gov. Chris Christie signed the bill after revisions he requested were made. Christie’s requests included setting a 10-year trial period for online gaming, increasing taxes on Atlantic City casinos to 15 percent and a stipulation that people betting online would have to choose a casino and create an account with that establishment.

“This was a critical decision, and one that I did not make lightly,” Christie said, reported the New York Times. “But with the proper regulatory framework and safeguards that I insisted on including in the bill, I am confident that we are offering a responsible yet exciting option that will make Atlantic City more competitive while also bringing financial benefits to New Jersey as a whole.”

Now with the new gaming initiatives open for business, everyone is watching to see what happens next.

Eyes on New Jersey

Many interested parties are also watching New Jersey’s initiative, especially legislators in other states and those in the gambling industry. Eager to see if Internet gambling and traditional casinos can peacefully, and successfully, co-exist, and also drive much desired revenues and taxes.

Atlantic City, the seaside town most famous in the state for gambling, has been going through hard times. According to Business Week, the “beleaguered gaming town” has seen revenue go down 40 percent from 2006’s peak earnings. Atlantic City first allowed casinos in 1978.

It is hoped online gambling can revitalize the industry.

What do casino owners think?

Across the United States, there are mixed feelings from casino owners on Internet gambling. Some owners are reportedly apprehensive about the legalization of online gambling, while others are eagerly looking at current and future business opportunities it opens up. Then there are those, such as Sheldon Adelson, founder and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp. who appears to be steadfast against it.

Future of online gaming

Is online gaming sustainable in the long run, and will it meet its objectives or will it harm existing brick and mortar casinos? It is reportedly successful in other countries, and chances are it may be in the United States as well, but that doesn’t mean it won’t come without problems here in the states.

It’s possible the initiative could drive much-needed revenue, reportedly millions in taxes to state coffers and billions for operators of the gaming websites. But it also could create complications since most states have not legalized Internet gambling, especially since there seems to be a level of enthusiasm for legalized online gaming which could create conflict. According to Bloomberg, over 10,000 gamers registered in the first three days online gambling was legalized in New Jersey. But those in border states, who live nearby, cannot engage.

Will online gambling be able to be effectively regulated? And if not, will the federal government step in and create a blanket law to cover all states? At this time laws are also being considered to allow bets from international customers.

And there are other hurdles to pass, such as not all credit card companies are on board. Many big banks, including Wells Fargo, Bank of America and American Express, are not allowing their cards to be used for online gambling.

At this time, the future of online gambling in the United States is unknown, but now that New Jersey has legalized it, the immediate future will be very telling, depending on how many people actually engage in it. However, regardless of whether or not people flock to it, it still won’t resolve the complex and tangled web of issues associated with Internet gaming.