With the blessing of a majority of voters and the signature of Gov. Chris Christie, online wagering has become law in New Jersey.
State regulators now are working out the details for implementation of the system that will allow gamblers to place their bets on computers, smartphones and tablets anywhere in New Jersey. Bettors will be able to place bets on any game currently offered at the casinos, including slots, roulette, blackjack and other table games.
But first, players will have to visit an Atlantic City casino to register and set up an account — the initial step in a line of protection against fraud and underage gambling.
Other safeguards and regulations are in the works — an amalgam of best practices drawn from a state Division of Gaming Enforcement study of 85 jurisdictions where online gaming is allowed.
“We are going to develop clear and convincing standards for the users and the operators to protect against fraud, and have risk-mitigation standards built in,” assures David Rebuck, division director.
Assurances have also come from analysts such as a Moody’s Investors Services vice president who sees online gambling as “a shot in the arm for the 12 existing Atlantic City operators, which have been struggling with weak gaming revenue trends amid new competition from neighboring gaming jurisdictions.”
That’s a welcome assessment, particularly in light of the resounding thud of Atlantic City’s previously proclaimed savior, the palatial Revel casino that’s recently filed for bankruptcy protection.
We’re more optimistic about the chances of online gaming as a way of adding to New Jersey’s revenue – as well as helping revive the fortunes of Atlantic City where the casinos have annual losses since Pennsylvania stepped up to the gambling table.
One of the keys to the Keystone State’s success may be maximizing convenience. Instead of forming a gambling mecca, casinos in Pennsylvania are spread out — one (and another on the way) in Philadelphia, a few in the populous suburbs, some in Pocono Mountain resorts.
And what could be more convenient than playing a few games of blackjack at the kitchen table?
We’re optimistic, but at the same time a bit wary of how quickly all this is coming about. With Delaware and Nevada working on similar ventures, there is pressure to get New Jersey’s system up and running. Meanwhile, Atlantic City is in desperate need of the turnaround analysts say online gambling represents.
The urgency is understandable, but it’s vital to check and double-check every step of this process. Meticulous preparation and reliable regulation are more essential than being first.