NJ residents: no more casinos

September 24, 2012 1:07 pm

Most New Jersey residents are opposed to allowing more casinos outside of Atlantic City, according to a new poll.

The poll found 56 percent of voters oppose casinos elsewhere in the state, while 35 percent said casinos should be located outside of Atlantic City. The poll was conducted by Fairleigh Dickinson University and comes as some lawmakers in North Jersey are pushing to allow casinos in the Meadowlands as a way to generate more tax revenue from gambling losses.

The push to add more casinos across the state is in response to the steep drop in gambling tax revenue coming out of Atlantic City, due in large part to increased competition from Pennsylvania and other area states. At the same time, New York lawmakers, led by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, want to legalize commerical casinos in the Empire State. Such a move could further cut into the number of gamblers traveling to Atlantic City – manily to lose money.

However, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Democratic lawmakers in South Jersey oppose adding more casinos in other parts of the state. Instead, they want to focus efforts to lure gamblers back to Atlantic City. But so far those efforts – which include a new casino, a new marketing campaign and cuts in regulation – have yet to stop the bleeding in Atlantic City.

But at least most voters in New Jersey understand that the answer to the drop in gambling is not more gambling. Perhaps they know that 30-plus years of gambling Atlantic City has failed to revitalize that shore town. Not to mention that adding casinos in other cities is not a worthy policy when it comes to generating jobs or tax revenue.

New Jersey sued over sports betting

August 9, 2012 10:41 am

The NCAA and four professional sports leagues sued New Jersey in federal court to stop the state from allowing betting on games at its casinos and race tracks.

The suit contends that New Jersey’s effort to allow sports betting violates federal law. Sports betting is legal only in Nevada, Delaware, Oregon and Montana. The suit added: “Gambling on amateur and professional sports threatens the integrity of those sports and is fundamentally at odds with the principle … that the outcomes of collegiate and professional athletic contests must be determined … solely on the basis of honest athletic competition.”

Gov. Chris Christie shrugged off the lawsuit, saying he believes the existing law is unconstitutional. But he added the state has long way to go in the courts. “I don’t believe that the federal government has the right to decide that only certain states can have sports gambling, and it does not acknowledge that there is illegal sports gambling going on in every state in America as we speak,” Christie said.

Even if Christie wins on the legal merits, that doesn’t make state-sponsored sports betting right. The state endorsement of sports betting will only prompt more people to gamble – and lose. More addicts will also be created, leading to more social costs paid by all taxpayers regardless of whether they gamble. (Read about the costs here.) See here how sports betting and addiction is especially a problem among young males, especially on college campuses.

The increase in big money bet on games will also likely lead to more players taking dives and games getting fixed, further undermining the integrity of sports. (See list of famous scandals here.) In the end, everyone loses.

Enjoy the show but keep gambling

June 26, 2012 5:32 pm

New Jersey lawmakers want visitors to enjoy Atlantic City – just as long as they keep gambling.

The state Assembly voted 77-0 to approve a measure that would allow casino and racetrack customers to use mobile devices to gamble anywhere they want on the property. State senators are expected to vote on the bill Thursday. It would take effect once Gov. Chris Christie signed it.

Essentially casino customers could take the mobile device to gamble by the pool, at a show, dinner or back to their hotel room. Got to go to the bathroom? Take the mobile gambling device with you. At least that will provide some, ah, relief for slot machine addicts who have been known to wear adult diapers so as not to lose their lucky machine.

And that’s what this measure is really all about: Keeping gamblers, gambling in order to generate more revenue for the struggling casinos and the state. The Jersey lawmakers tried to spin it as some sort of customer-friendly service, which they can’t even bring themselves to call gambling.

“There are so many enjoyable things to do at Atlantic City’s casinos and hotels, it just makes sense to allow guests to take their games along with them,” said Assemblyman John Amodeo, R-Atlantic. Assemblyman Ruben Ramos, D-Hudson, chairman of the Assembly Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Committee, said: “If a couple or a group of friends … wants to lounge by the pool, or take in a show or dinner, those who want to take advantage of gaming attractions can now have it at their fingertips so they don’t have to miss out on any of the action.”

But the bottom line is the measure is not going to help the casinos much. (Not to mention, by reading some of these comments this is not a service average citizens want or support.) Nevada approved mobile gambling in 2009. So far, the move has only contributed $84,000 – or 0.01 percent – to the state $865.5 million in gambling tax revenue.

In other words, New Jersey lawmakers should not feel good about enabling a service that will mostly keep gambling addicts gambling.

Revel rolls snake eyes again

June 12, 2012 8:28 am

Big shock: the new $2.4 billion Revel casino in Atlantic City had another sluggish month in business, despite lots of free media coverage and an advertising blitz.

Revel’s revenue was $13.9 million in May, ranking eighth among Atlantic City’s dozen casinos. Revenues in April, its first month in business, were $13.4 million. Overall, Atlantic City’s total gambling revenue was $263 million in May, down 9.5 percent
compared with a year ago. Excluding Revel, revenue declined 14.3 percent.

The arrival of Revel is not going to fix what is ailing Atlantic City. The Jersey Shore resort is getting killed by increased competition from Pennsylvania, Delaware and other states, including Maryland, which just opened a new casino. As a result, many more elderly people who used to bus in to Atlantic City now have a local casino closer to home.

The Revel was aiming for the high-end market. But Atlantic City has always been more about low rollers, seniors playing slots and working class heroes hoping to get lucky. The Revel’s fancy amentities and nonsmoking policy don’t appeal to the blue collar crowd.

That’s why Morgan Stanley walked away from the Revel after the financial collpase. The bankers understood it was better to cut their losses. The free market had spoken. But, surprisingly, Gov. Chris Christie, supposedly a free market Republican,  came through with a $261 million taxpayer-bond bailout to help complete construction of the Revel.

The way the bailout is structured it is unlikely taxpayers will ever get repaid. Rather than bring more gamblers to Atlantic City, investors are betting the Revel will more likely take market share from the other existing casinos in Atlantic City. That will only weaken the remaining casinos, which are already struggling from the outside competition.

Gov. Christie avoids Atlantic City

May 16, 2012 9:21 am

Elected officials are such hypocrites when it comes to gambling. They salivate over the tax revenue that comes from casinos and lotteries, but they distance themselves from the economic and social costs that come from government’s role in enabling more and more gambling.

Take New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. He was the scheduled keynote speaker at the East Coast Gaming Congress in Atalntic City. But he backed out of the commitment and is sending his luitenent governor in his place. Christie’s spokesman said the change was due to a scheduling conflict.

Critics believe Christie doesn’t want to be seen cozying up to the gambling industry in advance of his presumed national political ambitions. Ironically, the gambling conference is being held at the new Revel Casino, a $2.4 billion resort that was only completed after Christie provided a $260 million taxpayer bailout.

Christie may run from his gambling ties but he can’t hide. The governor has been deeply involved in trying to prop up Atlantic City’s sagging fortunes. The state has scaled back regulations of the casinos, a move that is saving the casinos millions of dollars. Christie has also been a supporter of legalizing sports betting and online gambling.

But a Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll released on Monday found the majority of Garden State residents oppose online wagering based at Atlantic City casinos. The move would enable a virtual casino in everyone’s home computer and mobile phone. Such easy access to gambling would surely increase the social and economic costs that come from gambling, and make it easier for technology-crazed teens to gamble.

That policy may not go over well with some conservative groups. Maybe that’s why Christie doesn’t want to be seen schmoozing with the casino operators in Atlantic City.