New Jersey to start Internet gambling

ATLANTIC CITY — Residents and visitors will be able to start gambling online on Nov. 26 in New Jersey, after a five-day trial period to make sure the systems operated by Atlantic City’s 12 casinos work properly.

The state Gaming Enforcement Division said Friday that the casinos may begin a “soft play” period on Nov. 21 for invited guests. If all goes well, the casinos can begin full Internet gambling Nov. 26.

Gamblers would have to be physically within New Jersey’s boundaries to play. New Jersey will be the third state in the U.S. to offer online gambling, along with Nevada and Delaware.

Online gambling aims to give the struggling casinos new revenue, though some worry the in-person business will simply migrate to computers, leading to casino job losses. Atlantic City’s casino revenue has plunged from a high of $5.2 billion in 2006 to a little more than $3 billion last year and could dip below $3 billion by year’s end. Thousands of casino jobs have been lost already as many gamblers choose options closer to their homes in Pennsylvania, New York, and Maryland.

Regulations governing online gambling will take effect Oct. 21.

Nine of the city’s 12 casinos have acknowledged lining up partners for Internet gambling; a 10th is widely rumored to have selected a partner, too.

The Tropicana Casino and Resort has joined with Gamesys Ltd., which runs the website. The four casinos owned by Caesars Entertainment — Caesars Atlantic City, Bally’s Atlantic City, Harrah’s Resorts Atlantic City and the Showboat Casino Hotel — are partnering with 888 Holdings.