Online Gambling Nothing New in New Jersey

Online Gambling Nothing New in New JerseyNew Jersey’s decision to legalize online gambling made headlines in February after Governor Chris Christie signed the bill with some modifications he had requested. Fact is; online gambling has been legal for years in New Jersey. For almost a decade it has been legal for a resident of New Jersey to place a bet on a horse race on the internet or by telephone. New Jersey’s existing “account wagering” system for wagering on horses offers the convenience sought by high rollers that the industry hopes to attract. Punters who want to place a bet on a race at Meadowlands of even the Kentucky Derby can create an account that is drawn on with each bet and replenished with each win. It is similar to an EZ pass with a chance of winning big bucks.

The “account Wagering” system has been a small but growing part of legal gambling in the state. The system was first created to help the troubled horse racing industry in the state and serves a growing number of gamblers who don’t want to make a trip to a racetrack or off track betting parlor. Last year alone almost $100 million was bet on the internet or by phone accounting for about 15% of all bets placed in New Jersey. The system has suffered from a lack of awareness of its existence. According to a recent poll only 10% of New Jersey residents thought it was legal to place bets online and 35% thought it was illegal.

Many residents became aware of the system this year when news reports said that the state Sports and Exposition Authority allowed Ahmed Zayat, a horseman from Teaneck, to owe them $286,000 after making a series of bets on thoroughbred races. At the time his account did not have sufficient funds to cover the potential losses. The debt has been cited in a lawsuit by Freehold Raceway which is a part of the online wagering system. The state’s Racing Commission is conducting an investigation but would not discuss details. Officials did tell reporters that Zayat has paid the debt.

Users of the wagering system like its simplicity which bodes well for online gambling in New Jersey. While Nevada plans to limit online gaming to poker New Jersey plans to offer residents a variety of games. Potential games include online bingo, slots, blackjack, keno and other casino and table games. Former Meadowlands Racetrack announcer and track handicapper Dave Brower loves the wagering system and told reporters “I’ve found it tremendously convenient and easy to use, and I think once most people pulled the trigger, they found the same thing,” Brower said. “Then what made it more popular was the advent of racing channels such as TVG or HRTV, so that you could sit on your couch and watch the race live or on a slight tape delay.” It is hoped that online gamblers will find the state’s online casino operations as easy and convenient as Brower says.

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