Feb 11 Guests at one New Jersey casino will be
the first in the United States to place bets with the click of
their television remote controls, as gambling gets ever closer
to going online in the state.
The Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City will launch
a field trial for in-room video poker and slots on Feb. 18,
following approval from state gambling regulators in January for
the project to begin.
The 90-day experiment - available on televisions in the
majority of the Borgata's 2,800 hotel rooms - is likely to
provide insights on how state lawmakers could legalize online
gaming after New Jersey's Republican Governor Chris Christie
narrowly vetoed a bill last week which would have done just
The technology "provides us a first look and first step at
things that are greater to come, both with mobile technology and
internet technology," said Joe Lupo, senior vice president of
operations at Borgata, owned by Boyd Gaming Corp.
"We are fully confident that it will be successful and we
can incorporate what we learned into both the mobile and
internet regulatory processes," said Lupo.
Software developer Allin Interactive Corp, a subsidiary of
Allin Corp, has been providing in-room gaming to
cruise ships in international waters for several years. But the
company says the New Jersey experiment is the first land-based
in-room gaming operation in the United States.
Up to eight U.S. states are considering legalizing online
gambling to varying degrees, according to analysts at Citigroup.
Some forms are already legal in Delaware and Nevada. But
large markets remain untapped. In New Jersey, the market could
be worth up to $1 billion.
New Jersey lawmakers had passed a bill that would allow
Atlantic City casinos to offer online gaming to the state's
nearly 8.9 million residents, and create opportunities for
European companies with expertise in running online gaming
Christie vetoed the legislation but suggested he would
support it in the future if it included funding to treat
gambling addiction and a requirement that elected officials
disclose relationships with internet gaming license holders.
He also said New Jersey's law, if passed, should be reviewed
after 10 years to gauge its impact on problem gambling.
BETTING FROM THE SWIMMING POOL
Companies that stand to gain from the expansion of online
gambling in the United States include Caesars Entertainment
Corp's, Bally Technologies Inc, International
Game Technology, WMS Industries Inc and SHFL
Entertainment, among others.
UK-based bwin.party, the world's largest listed
online gaming group, has a joint venture with Boyd Gaming.
New Jersey lawmakers said on Monday that they would adopt
the governor's changes to the Internet gambling legislation as
quickly as possible, saying Internet gambling would provide a
much-needed boost to struggling Atlantic City and would save
"Opening New Jersey gaming up to Internet wagering will
provide untold benefits to the state and to the city, which has
had to contend with increased out-of-state gaming competition in
recent years," said State Senator Jim Whelan, a Democrat and one
of the bill's sponsors.
The test program for television-based gaming comes after New
Jersey passed a law in 2012 allowing gaming on mobile devices
-including smart phones and iPads - as long as they remain
inside the hotels, swimming pools, restaurants and other
recreation areas of Atlantic City casinos.
Under the test program at Borgata, guests will be able to
use the casino's existing interactive television platform to buy
credits and play games on their hotel room televisions.
Borgata is also eyeing the possible expansion of games to
mobile devices inside its property using a sort of electronic
blocker called a "geo-fence," Lupo said.