New Jersey making big moves to expand Live and Online Gambling Market

New Jersey’s online gambling market has received more limelight in the last year than Zach Efron’s infallible hair. Estimations of revenue production from the launch of online poker and casino gaming in November of 2013 were grossly over-exaggerated by state officials and industry analysts, and Atlantic City will have lost a third of its land-based casinos by the end of the year. With the eyes of the nation upon them, the Garden State is now looking to reinvent its gambling industry with further expansions that could include skill-based online gaming and legalized sports betting.

Governor Chris Christie made it very clear over the last few years that he wants his state to be able to provide sports betting to the adult population. After several failed attempts at getting approval from the federal government, New Jersey considered ignoring US law and giving casinos the option of proffering sports betting opportunities while state authorities more or less turn a blind eye to the legalities involved. State Senator Ray Lesniak, who has been a staunch supporter of online poker regulation for years, put the theory to the test with a sports betting bill.

What started as Assembly Bill 1371 (now S2460), a measure that “Partially repeals prohibitions, permits, licenses, and authorizations concerning wagers on professional, collegiate, or amateur sport contests or athletic events”, passed in both Houses yesterday and has since been referred to Gov. Christie for his signature. Considering the governor’s staunch advocacy of sports betting in the state, it’s likely that his approval will come long before the 45-day time frame he is allotted to sign the bill into effect.

New Jersey is also seeking to add skill-based games to its iGaming portfolio, which currently includes online poker and casino gambling. It’s a relatively new genre for the online gambling industry, but one that Director David Rebuck of the NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement is highly enthusiastic about.

“Bring your innovative skill-based games to New Jersey and we will work with you to get them approved quickly,” read a statement from Rebuck, requesting submissions of skill-based gaming opportunities from software vendors.

The response was swift as Gamblit Gaming’s Marcus Yoder told The Press of Atlantic City, “We have what we call a gamblification development kit”. He explained that the software company is able to re-envision existing skill games, such as those popularized by video game consoles (PS3/4, Xbox, Wii, etc.) and in the social gaming community (Angry Birds, Criminal Case, Farm Heroes Saga, etc.), into “gamblified” variations. Yoder rationalized that “a game developer could literally take Candy Crush if they wanted to and turn it into a gambling-based game.”

The addition of sports betting in land-based establishments, along with skill-based gambling in the online market, should result in a significant boost to the economy in the Garden State. If the governor and regulators move quickly enough, both wagering activities could be available in New Jersey in a matter of weeks. The largest revenue boost is expected to come from the impending sports betting sector due to the fact that only four US states currently authorize that type of gambling, with Delaware being the only neighboring rival for New Jersey. The other three states authorized to conduct legal sports betting are Montana, Nevada and Oregon.

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