Monday March 4,2013 : NEW JERSEY CASINOS ONLINE BY THE END OF THE YEAR?
Officials and experts say it may not take as long as some land casino execs think
Following widespread US coverage of comments Monday by Caesars Entertainment exec that it will take 18 months to two years for newly legalised online gambling to get up and running in New Jersey, industry experts have made more optimistic predictions, with some saying that New Jersey land casinos could be offering online gambling by year’s end.
The Star Ledger newspaper quoted officials as saying that the first draft of the necessary regulations is being pushed by Gov. Chris Christie and will probably be completed by this Thursday…and internet gambling in the state could be operational as early as the end of 2013.
Meanwhile, the authoritative publication New Jersey.com interviewed online gambling legal expert Prof. I. Nelson Rose, who said:
“I don’t see any reason it would take 18 months, let alone two years. I don’t see any reason it wouldn’t be up and operating by the end of this year.”
New Jersey.com notes that the $32.9 billion budget unveiled last week by Gov. Christie anticipates a $200 million increase in casino tax revenue in the fiscal year beginning July 1, mostly from online gambling.
There have been various predictions on how big online gambling revenues will be in the Garden States, with most around the $1 billion mark rising to over $1.5 billion in the next five years.
State Sen. Raymond Lesniak, the man mainly responsible for driving online gambling legalization through the New Jersey Legislature, says the revenues suggested by the governor’s budget estimates are on the aggressive side.
Gov. Christie has also been trying to improve New Jersey’s tax revenues by signing off on a bill that directly challenged the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act by permitting sports wagering in New Jersey, a state excluded from the four states allowed under PASPA to take sports wagering.
Challenged by the national sports leagues and the Department of Justice, Christie lost the first round last week when a federal judge imposed a permanent injunction on the implementation of the New Jersey measure although the state has announced it is to appeal the decision.
There is big money at stake; the American Gaming Association says that $2.88 billion was legally wagered on sports in Nevada in 2011, and it has escalated since then.
But back to online gambling in the state, where Atlantic City land operators will enjoy the exclusive licenses from New Jersey’s regulators and will have to comply with stringent conditions regarding age limits, location within the state and responsible gambling measures.
What has yet to be decided, says NJ.com, is whether would-be online punters will have to initially present themselves at the Atlantic City operators to register for internet gambling and prove their age, residence and absence from any exclusion lists. This can be done remotely and securely, but land casino owners may want to bring gamblers through their physical doors as well, at least initially.
Interviewed by NJ.com last week, New Jersey Division of Enforcement director, David Rebuck, said that there are merits to both options, and the state may opt for a hybrid system, although he did not elaborate further.
Rebuck also revealed that his department has been laying the foundations for legalised and regulated internet gambling for some time, researching the systems in 85 global jurisdictions before embarking on preparations for its own regulatory regime. And he said that the regulations are consequently at an advanced stage of readiness and will be published in the New Jersey Register for public comment in the near future.
The public and other interested parties will have two months to present their ideas and suggestions, whilst prospective operators start to gear up for the licensing process.
Rebuck expressed confidence that the goal of achieving operational status within the next nine months is achievable, and his department is "fully dedicated to meeting that goal.”
Whilst taken off-guard by the optimistic New Jersey projections, Caesar’s Entertainment spokesman Seth Palansky accepted that it could be done: “if the state and the regulators are committed to dedicating the personnel to do all the due diligence in a time frame like that."
Nevertheless, Rebuck said it is possible that issues may arise as the regulatory structure is developed, and he assured NJ.com that his staff will not rush the process, preferring to be thorough and rigorous in their approach.