Once a booming tourist attraction that drew in crowds for, among other things, the availability of legal gambling, over the last few years, Atlantic City’s gambling revenue has declined at an alarming rate. New models to make gambling more accessible are not only vital to the state of New Jersey, but can be the start of a fresh yet controversial era of gambling.
According to a New York Times article, As Casinos Struggle, New Jersey Tries New Ways to Bet, the success of Atlantic City’s casinos is vital to the state economy; they create $300 million in tax revenue annually. However, profits recently have dropped about 25%. In response, Gov. Chris Christie instituted a five-year plan to save Atlantic City which involved the formation of a new tourism district and a $30 million marketing plan. Yet this was to no avail, as Revel, the newest $2.6 billion casino and resort, is now in bankruptcy. The Governor is now exploring new ways to allow casinos to generate gambling revenue.
Katie Zernike writes a few of these new options include mobile and laptop gambling, in-room gambling at casino hotels, and pop-up casinos at concerts or sporting events. Casinos also can connect to Internet subscribers and attract them with vouchers, free rooms and other deals. The State budget counts on receiving $180 million in tax returns from Internet gambling within the next year. Both New Jersey casinos and racetracks would take in over $1 billion yearly. Nonetheless, these ideas do come with flaws, one of which is the argument that using online casino gambling would increase the incidence of gambling addiction, something for which the Internet is already well known.
Another option is sports betting. Casinos and racetracks argue that without it, they would go out of business, putting 7,000 people out of work and losing $110 million in tax revenue. In 2009, Mr. Christie signed a ballot initiative for sports betting which gained prodigious support by New Jersey voters. The right to implement such an initiative has been upheld by the federal courts. However, the possibility of taking advantage of this law and ruling has led to a new legal challenge by the sports industry and others. Supporters feel that it would benefit casinos, racetracks and the state of New Jersey, and that it would enable players to advertise for team-branded lottery cards and promote fantasy leagues. On the other hand, the federal government and professional and collegiate sport teams often feel that sports betting would tarnish the appearance of the games.