New Jersey residents can now bet the house from the comfort of their own house.
Online gambling officially launched in the state today, making it the third state, and the most dense, to have casinos and online gambling operations legally operating in the United States. The rollout of 13 websites that allow users to gamble online was pretty seamless, according to operators and the state.
David Rebuck, director of New Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforcement, oversaw the development of the online system and said today that it rolled out so well because it was a privatized system in which companies compete against one another to have the best operational sites.
“This is an area that is private sector run,” Rebuck said, making a veiled comparison to the rocky rollout of the Obamacare website last month. “It is not a government website and look, capitalism is a wonderful thing and it worked. It is the private sector competing against one another, so there’s innovation and challenges to be best platform to attract customers to be successful commercially.”
The websites are all run by online gaming companies that have operated sites inside and outside the U.S. in the past. Now, they legally operate in New Jersey and are tied to one of six brick-and-mortar casinos, forming online-offline partnerships that many hope will be a boon to the ailing casino industry in the state.
“The focus has been on the rebirth of Atlantic City,” Rebuck said. “The thinking is that new revenue streams that could come about through more attractive play by casinos and the internet could generate that much more revenue,” for the casinos and New Jersey.
The law allowing online gambling was signed by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in February as a possible boon to Atlantic City, which has seen declining revenue in recent years as neighboring states legalized casinos.
Now, users can log on from anywhere within the borders of New Jersey and wager money on games like online poker, blackjack, and slot machines.
The websites “soft-launched” last week and began testing their software, including geolocation technology that prevents residents from other states from accessing the websites. Many of the companies reported initial issues with the geolocation but said it was working better this week.
“Today is the first full day of live internet gaming that’s open to the entire state, and we’ve started to see significant traffic increases,” said Rebuck.
“There have been challenges around geolocation for all operators, but we had our guys on the ground in Jersey City and they’ve been to 150 locations to see whether they could or couldn’t get on, and the results are great, above what we expected them to deliver,” said Ben Carter, digital director of the online site BetFairCasino.com, which is partnered with Trump Plaza Casino. The company is based in the United Kingdom and runs online gaming sites around the world.
Betfair and other website operators contacted by ABC News declined to provide numbers of how many users signed up today. The Division of Gaming Enforcement also said it did not have numbers available to release.
“There’s a lot of stiff competition and brands out there competing for the same players, so we’re going to give compelling reasons to come back,” Carter said.
Rebuck said the DGE had developed exacting minimum standards for the websites, including those that prevent underage individuals from gambling, identity fraud measures, and geolocation rules.