As the latest entrant in the new online gambling phenomenon which has been running since November of 2013 in New Jersey, British billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson has joined the party as well. Branson’s Virgin Group is teaming up with virtual game maker Gamesys to deliver Internet blackjack, poker and slots to New Jersey residents. Offering those Internet options through the Tropicana Resort in Atlantic City, Branson hopes to grab some of the $3 billion which Americans spent on Internet gambling before state-sponsored choices began to appear last year. This is expected to be a welcome addition to the current Atlantic City online casino offerings as well as the existing Atlantic City online poker options.
While Governor Chris Christie’s bloated expectations of $1 billion in casino revenue the first year is obviously way out of line, New Jersey has been the leader in the online gambling industry in the United States thus far. NJ is set to collect a 17% tax on any casino revenue generated from the state’s Internet gaming efforts. Currently eight other states besides New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware have legitimate bills which are proposing Internet gambling, all hoping to join those three states in offering some type of online gambling options for their residents and visitors. Individual states in the US can now legally license and regulate Internet gambling businesses thanks to the Department of Justice rolling back its opinion on many forms of online gambling in late 2011.
The Virgin Group – Gamesys partnership will deliver Internet casino games, slots and poker through the virtual Virgin Casino, with New Jersey residents and vacationers either funding their accounts in person at the Tropicana Resort, or via debit and credit cards online. New Jersey is hopefully going to continue to add more new Internet gambling options like Branson’s this year, as their early efforts in only 2013 only included six websites. While there are obviously proponents, for the most part, industry analysts believe that online gambling is going to be successful in New Jersey, and other parts of the United States, likening the current situation to that of the arrival of state lotteries in the past.
Only a few decades ago, state run lotteries and their legitimacy were hotly contested. Now 43 US states offer multiple lotteries, and gaming industry consultant U.K. market research firm H2 Gambling Capital believes that the time is ripe for virtual gambling options in the United States and abroad. That company has predicted approximately $300 million from the virtual New Jersey gambling operation in its first year, which would deliver roughly $50 million in tax and revenue to the Garden State. Estimates have ranged as high as $9 billion in revenue across the United States if and when most other states join this new Internet gambling industry.
On the worldwide level, having influential entrepreneurs like the globally invested Branson is perfect for a smaller state like New Jersey. Forming international compacts with other virtual gambling jurisdictions around the world would make the Atlantic City-based New Jersey Internet gambling operation a global leader, dramatically driving revenue in a significant manner. And Branson is the perfect man to pave the way for such across-the-pond relationships in the UK and beyond. In related news, the president and chief executive officer of the American Gaming Association, Geoff Freeman, continues to point out that, “Prohibition simply does not work” in America. Freeman points to the DOJ reversal on Internet gambling in 2011, and believes that sports betting is the next wave of online wagering to legally hit the United States.