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Online Gambling a Reality

Without much muss or fuss, online gambling became a reality in New Jersey this past November. The reports are that over 90,000 accounts have been opened as of mid-December, with 20,000 opened just last week. What isn’t yet known is the effect it will have on those with gambling addictions.

As of this writing, 13 different sites have been approved to take bets from New Jersey residents. These are divided among 5 online casinos: Caesars Casino (includes Harrahs), Borgata Casino, Tropicana, Trump Plaza and Trump Taj Mahal. Others who wanted in have been barred, such as the popular online poker site, Poker Stars. Poker Stars has had some legal troubles, including the indictment of one of the founders and faces a two-year ban. The Golden Nugget and Bally’s have been approved, but didn’t have sites up and running yet.

The operation is being overseen by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, which already supervises casinos in New Jersey, including Atlantic City. Their mission statement says, in part:
”To protect the public interest by maintaining a legitimate and viable industry, free from the influences of organized crime, and assuring the honesty, good character and integrity of casino owners, operators, employees and vendors. “

For those who cannot gamble responsibly, there is contact information and resources available at the Division of Gaming website. Of particular interest is the “self exclusion” program. Problem gamblers can sign up as part of their treatment and they will not be allowed to gamble in the state. Other programs are available through the Council on Compulsive Gambling, which offers a self-administered test to help patrons decide if they meet the criteria of a compulsive gambler. The test can be found here.

It remains to be seen what the impact of legal online gambling will have on the state. The worry is that citizens may increase their gaming in non-traditional settings, since people can now lose money from home or while on a break from work.

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