When New Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforcement released the most recent online gambling numbers last month, it was clear that the state’s online gambling revenues are showing no signs of slowing down. July’s numbers have broken the previous record yet again, in spite of the fact that gambling revenues typically dip during the summer months. In July, online gambling brought in $17.4 million, which is $1 million more than June and a 38.6 percent increase from July 2015.
Why New Jersey’s Online Gambling Growth Matters
New Jersey’s continued growth in the legal US online gambling sector is actually a very important piece of the complex legislative battles happening in California and Pennsylvania right now. Both states have been embroiled in long and heated debates over the passage of legislation to regulate online gambling.
One of the main arguments that the opposition has consistently made over the course of the California and Pennsylvania debates is that the online market in New Jersey has not been performing as well as the pre-regulation projections for online gambling revenues. Detractors like to make a big deal out of the New Jersey legal online gambling market’s “shortcomings” as a sign that trying to open up regulated markets in other states would be a waste of time and resources.
What the opposition seems to be missing is that, while New Jersey’s online poker market may not have experienced the pre-regulation projected growth yet, the state’s online gambling sector overall is experiencing consistent month-to-month and year-to-year growth. For online casino games, the year-on-year growth showed an impressive 44.2 percent. The year-on-year growth for online poker was about 6.7 percent, which is less than hoped for, but still trending positively.
These numbers are important because they show that, contrary to what naysayers may try to argue, there is significant potential for expansion in these emerging markets. Even though the brick-and-mortar casino industry of Atlantic City is steadily declining and has been for several years, the online markets have yet to see a plateau.
Potential Hidden Agendas Fueling the Opposition
With the regulated New Jersey market consistently breaking its own revenue records and showing that the online gambling industry has plenty of potential to be a thriving source of income for other states that legalize online gambling, it begs the question of why the California and Pennsylvania legislation is experiencing such a hard pushback.
There are a few different possible reasons for such a high level of opposition, all of which revolve around special interests and agendas. For example, California has several land-based casinos that are owned and operated by tribal groups. Naturally, these groups would not want to see a regulated online gambling industry open up, because it would detract from their profits considerably. The tribes have tried every tactic possible to gain support for their opposition, though most of their arguments are pretty easy to see through for what they really are. Other businesses that stand to lose profits to online poker and other real money online casino games are obviously going to be opposed to the legislation as well.
Another major possible source of resistance is from the extremely religious and conservative groups in each state. These groups may an incredibly vocal minority, but they have quite a bit of sway, especially during election years. Between these groups and various special interest groups that would prefer to make deals behind the scenes, it really isn’t that surprising that the bills in California and Pennsylvania have died on the floor so many times over.
The fact remains, though, that New Jersey’s online casino industry has been, and continues to be, quite profitable. Maybe now, with more facts and statistics to point to, proponents of a regulated and legal online casino industry will be able to push past the opposition and get the ball rolling.