Confusion Surrounds New Jersey Regulated Online Gambling Launch

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A survey recently conducted by affiliate network PokerAffiliateSolutions offers a variety of interesting insights into the level of interest and understanding New Jersey residents have regarding their state’s soon-to-launch regulated online gambling industry.

Consumer education could present significant hurdle in NJ

Nearly half (46.6%) surveyed indicated they were “not at all familiar” with “New Jersey’s plan to launch legal, regulated online gambling and poker in November 2013.”

Only 10% described themselves as “very familiar” with the plan.

As the PAS report notes, this apparent lack of education could both complicate the launch of regulated online gambling in New Jersey both by artificially depressing participation and by muddying the message of casino marketing efforts.

Not the first sign that communication on issue has been ineffective

The slightly pessimistic picture painted by the report was recently echoed – albeit anecdotally – from two telling corners.

The first was NJ’s top gaming regulator David Rebuck, who noted in an October 2013 interview with OPR that he had personally experienced incidents involving individuals unfamiliar with the basics of New Jersey online gambling regulations:

I think one of the — I’ve heard this today and it confused me a little why people are thinking this, but some people are thinking that you have to be a resident of the state of New Jersey in order to engage in Internet gaming. That’s false. You can be a resident; and while you’re in the state of New Jersey if you’re a nonresident and in you’re in the state of New Jersey, whether you’re vacationing here or visiting here, or working here, you can engage in Internet gaming. You just have to be within the four borders of the state of New Jersey. You don’t have to be a resident.

The second came on a Boyd earnings call for Q3 2013, where an analyst covering the company’s online ambitions in New Jersey revealed a lack of basic comprehension regarding how online gambling would work in the state:

Kevin Coyne – Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division

Just a question on online gaming in New Jersey. If we assume everything goes smoothly and the rollout happens on the 26th, just to get a sense, if I’m a New Jersey resident, do I have to, let’s say, go down to the property and visit it first to get registered or can I sign up right away to gamble that day or that night?

Keith E. Smith – Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

I think the anticipation is you’ll be able to sign up online. You mentioned New Jersey resident. You don’t have to be a New Jersey resident to be able to do this. You have to be within the boundaries of the state of New Jersey to be able to play. So this is not limited to New Jersey residents.

Kevin Coyne – Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division

But you won’t have to go to the property first?

Keith E. Smith – Chief Executive Officer, President and Director


Report suggests strong interest despite lack of familiarity

Despite the sizeable cohort of NJ residents who are unfamiliar with the impending launch of regulated online gambling, the PAS report suggests that levels of consumer interest in regulated iGaming are strong – arguably stronger than the consensus projections for the New Jersey market.

When asked how likely they were to play at regulated online casinos in NJ, 8.0% responded “definitely will play.”

Download the complete report here.

- Chris is the publisher of Grove also serves as a consultant to various stakeholders in the regulated market for online gambling in the United States.
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