Gamblers Optimistic for NJ Internet Betting
Some were locked out by software that didn't believe they were in New Jersey. Others had their credit cards rejected, their Social Security numbers questioned and their utility bills requested.
But despite the initial glitches as New Jersey's Internet gambling era got underway last week, many gamblers say they're optimistic the kinks will get worked out and the fledgling industry will take off as online gambling gets opened up to the entire state as soon as Tuesday.
"I'll definitely be back; it was awesome," said Chris Choy of East Brunswick, who registered at the World Series Of Poker site, one of five run by Caesars Atlantic City and the site that got the most positive reviews on opening night of the five-day trial period. "I was approved within 45 minutes and got $1,000 in there with no problems. It was pretty smooth sailing."
He would end up $99 ahead at the end of the night.
Michael Gagliano, a poker coach from Glen Gardner, also gave high marks to the WSOP site. He quickly registered Thursday night and played for hours.
"I deposited without any problems, and it went into my account instantly, and I was playing right away," he said.
He said he didn't fare as well on two other sites, Party Poker and Ultimate Poker, but said he expects them to be ready soon.
"I play a lot of poker, so I'll definitely be playing on a lot of these sites," he said.
Matt Katz, CEO of CAMS LLC, an online partner for several casinos, said his clients experienced a 6 percent approval rate of transactions using a Visa card over the first 18 hours of the test period.
Others had nothing but problems as the test period began Thursday. Many players were shut out of the action by geolocation software designed to ensure that a player is within New Jersey's boundaries. But because individual casinos set their electronic recognition borders somewhat inland from the state's actual borders to ensure that out-of-state players weren't allowed to gamble, legitimate gamblers inside New Jersey — sometimes as far as 15 miles inland— were blocked.
David Rebuck, director of the state Division of Gaming Enforcement, said he is not overly concerned by the startup issues, and expects them to be worked out soon.
Casino executives and their online technology partners were continuing to test and tinker with their systems during the trial period in hopes of being ready for an anticipated statewide launch Tuesday. That, however, could be delayed if regulators feel the system is not ready for heavy use.
New Jersey approved online gambling as a way to help the struggling Atlantic City casinos, which have seen their collective revenue fall from $5.2 billion in 2006 to just over $3 billion last year as casinos continue to open in states all around them. The casinos plan to market heavily and encourage Internet players to come to the brick-and-mortar casinos with offers of free meals, hotel rooms or concert tickets, along other perks.
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