New Jersey State Assemblyman Ralph Caputo thinks he scored a victory on behalf of land-based casinos in the state.
This past week, the Assembly Tourism, Gaming and Arts Committee approved AB 2811, which would require online gambling sites operating in New Jersey to “prominently advertise the name of its Atlantic City casino on its Internet gaming websites and advertisements”.
Existing laws don’t require casino promotion
The New Jersey Division of Gaming and Enforcement requires that all Internet gambling sites operating in the state must form partnerships with existing land-based casinos in order to operate in the state.
However, those websites are not required to advertise or promote the land-based casinos through which they operate. For websites like PokerStars, 888 and PartyPoker that lack a land-based presence in Atlantic City, partnerships are necessary in order to operate in New Jersey. Currently, there is no requirement that these operators prominently promote their partner on their sites.
Many of the existing websites, though, were created by land-based New Jersey casinos and already meet the advertising standards.
A list of the five casinos and their gaming websites can be viewed on the DGE’s Internet Gaming Sites page.
According to a June 2 press release from the Assembly Democrats, the bill will also require Internet gaming sites to be supervised by the DGE to make sure they’re complying with the advertising regulations.
Caputo believes online gambling should be leveraged more to help AC
In an article from PolitickerNJ.com, Caputo was quoted as saying that internet gambling makes people want to stay home instead of heading out to New Jersey’s premier legendary gaming city. That’s despite the fact that the “cannibalization myth” has largely been debunked, as casinos generally believe online gambling helps the brick-and-mortar casinos.
“People are not going to Atlantic City because they’re betting on the internet,” Caputo said. “So they’ve lost more patrons, more room occupancies.”
Caputo went on to say that the current internet gaming laws were intended to help Atlantic City, but that he believes the efforts were “really counterproductive” and that “whatever they gained they lost on the other end.”
Thus, Caputo asserts that his bill will help the land-based casinos, and by doing so, will also drive traffic back to their gaming websites. Most industry observers agree that in fact this has already happened, and that the regulated gambling sites have indeed helped lure a new and younger demographic to casinos in Atlantic City.
Caputo not a fan of online gambling
Yet the assemblyman’s distaste for internet gambling in his state is nothing new. Caputo has long been an outspoken critic of New Jersey online gambling.
In an August 2014 op-ed for the Star-Ledger, Caputo heavily criticized PokerStars for continuing to operate in the United States after the 2006 passage of the UIGEA.
Caputo called PokerStars a “disgraced online gambling giant” and concluded his scathing op-ed with the following warning:
“There’s too much at stake to act hastily and without the necessary due diligence to ensure that a bad actor is not given free rein in New Jersey and that all players seeking the privilege to do business in this state understand that dubious business dealings will not be tolerated.”
Of course, in the intervening period, PokerStars has launched its New Jersey online poker site with great success in conjunction with its land-based partner, Resorts. PokerStars is rumored to be constructing a live poker room at the property.
Caputo optimistic about Atlantic City’s future
Caputo’s bill must move through the Senate and then receive a signature from Gov. Chris Christie in order to be officially approved.
According to the text of the bill, once it’s signed, it takes effect, which means, in theory, changes will take place quickly.
And they couldn’t come too soon for Caputo, who is still holding out hope that Atlantic City will bounce back from its recent financial woes.
“Amid all the new stories and headlines, it is easy to forget that Atlantic City still has plenty to offer as far as gambling, dining, shopping and entertainment,” Caputo wrote in the Assembly press release. “We should use every opportunity available to promote the casinos still standing.”