Jersey casinos to launch Internet gambling

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — New Jersey residents and visitors will be able to start gambling online on Nov. 26, after a five-day trial period to make sure the systems operated by the city’s 12 casinos work properly.

The state Gaming Enforcement Division told The Associated Press on Friday that Atlantic City’s casinos may begin a “soft play” period on Nov. 21 for invited guests. If all goes well, the casinos can begin full Internet gambling at 9 a.m. EDT on Nov. 26.

Gamblers would have to be physically located within New Jersey’s boundaries to play. New Jersey will be the third state in the nation to offer online gambling, along with Nevada and Delaware.

“I think this is going to be a significant revenue stream,” said Robert Griffin, CEO of Trump Entertainment Resorts, which operates two casinos here. “It has the potential to make up 20 percent of our revenue.”

He said state regulators have not yet explained how the guests who are invited to participate in the trial period are to be selected, but said it would have to be a significant enough number to test the system’s capabilities.

Online gambling is designed to give the struggling casinos new revenue, though some worry the in-person business will simply migrate to computers, leading to casino job losses. Atlantic City’s casino revenue has plunged from a high of $5.2 billion in 2006 to a little more than $3 billion last year and could dip below that mark by the end of this year. Thousands of casino jobs have been lost already as many gamblers choose options closer to their homes in Pennsylvania, New York, and Maryland.

Regulations governing online gambling will take effect Oct. 21.

Nine of the city’s 12 casinos have acknowledged lining up partners for Internet gambling, and a 10th is widely rumored to have selected a partner, as well.

The Tropicana Casino and Resort has joined with Gamesys Limited, which runs the website. The four casinos owned by Caesars Entertainment — Caesars Atlantic City, Bally’s Atlantic City, Harrah’s Resorts Atlantic City and the Showboat Casino Hotel — are partnering with 888 Holdings.

The Borgata Hotel Casino &Spa is partnering with for online gambling.

Resorts Casino Hotel has joined with PokerStars, the world’s largest poker website, which had tried to buy the Atlantic Club earlier this year before the deal fell apart.

The Taj Mahal Casino Resort chose Ultimate Gaming, which began offering Internet gambling in Nevada earlier this year. Trump Plaza is widely reported by industry publications to have chosen Betfair, the British online gambling firm, although neither the casino nor the company would comment.

The Golden Nugget Atlantic City is offering its own brand of Internet gambling using Bally Technologies.

Revel Casino Hotel and The Atlantic Club Casino Hotel have not divulged their online gambling plans.

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