New Jersey Now Has Internet Gambling

November 27, 2013 AT 10:00 AM

New Jersey began allowing Internet gambling on Tuesday in a much-watched bet that there are untapped sources of revenue on bedside iPads and cubicle desktops, and even among people checking their phones while they wait in line for coffee.

Gambling analysts say it is the most significant development since casinos opened in Atlantic City over three decades ago, ultimately setting off what became a furious competition among states for a share of the take.

Eight other states have legislation pending that would allow Internet gambling. Delaware and Nevada began offering some online gambling this year. But New Jersey is considered the first true test case because it allows a full range of casino games — not just poker — and its much larger population offers the scale to see whether online gambling can meet the bold predictions for revenue and tap into a younger, more web-dependent demographic without stealing customers from struggling casinos.

Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, who signed the legislation allowing Internet gambling this year, is counting on that gambling to generate $1 billion for the state’s casinos in its first year, bringing in $150 million in tax revenue to help balance the state budget.

Ratings agencies and gambling industry analysts said that estimate was hugely inflated; one forecaster, H2 Gambling Capital, predicted that online gambling will produce about $300 million for New Jersey casinos — or about $45 million in tax revenue.

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