Wynn gets OK for online gambling in New Jersey, puts efforts on hold

New Jersey gaming regulators have given Wynn Resorts Ltd. approval to offer an Internet wagering website within the state’s boundaries, but a spokesman for the Las Vegas-based casino operator said the company’s online gambling efforts are on hold.

Wynn Resorts spokesman Michael Weaver said Monday that the company, which is headed by Steve Wynn, doesn’t view online gaming “to be a good entrepreneurial opportunity. Consequently, our plans are on hold until we understand the business opportunity.”

In actions taken in late January but made public Monday, New Jersey’s Gaming Enforcement Division granted authority to Wynn Interactive to conduct Internet gambling with partner Caesars Interactive, a subsidiary of Caesars Entertainment Corp.

The division also granted a request by Wynn and Caesars Interactive to conduct Internet gambling operations with the All American Poker Network and 888 Atlantic Limited, an affiliate of a Gibraltar-based online betting firm 888 Holdings.

However, in an interview with political commentator Jon Ralston, which appeared on Ralston’s website Sunday, Wynn said he now doesn’t see a “business opportunity” in online gaming. Wynn also said he questioned the technology used to track players and block minors from gambling online.

Wynn told Ralston the technology “was impressive if you were a cyberguy. But it was bullshit.”

Wynn stopped short of calling for an all-out prohibition of legalized online gaming, which has been proposed by Las Vegas Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson. Sources said Wynn does not plan to financially back the effort by Adelson to halt online gaming legalization in Washington, D.C., or state by state.

New Jersey approved Wynn for a so-called transactional waiver that enables the company to offer Internet gambling with Caesars Interactive, which has two of New Jersey’s Internet gambling permits.

“We are allowing them to use one of our permits,” Caesars Interactive spokesman Seth Palansky said.

Wynn applied for the license in 2013.

Caesars Interactive operates six gambling websites, including the 888 and WSOP sites.

Weaver said the financial results from legal online gaming in New Jersey and Nevada were unimpressive. New Jersey’s online gaming activities garnered $8.4 million in its first six weeks.

Nevada, which has just two poker-only Internet gaming sites, won’t break out the figures until a third website is licensed.

Union Gaming Group estimated online poker was responsible for about $200,000 in gaming revenue during December.

“We’ll put everything on hold and monitor it for now,” Weaver said.

There are 15 Internet gambling sites in New Jersey. Casinos licensed to operate the sites are the Borgata; Caesars Atlantic City; Bally’s Atlantic City; Golden Nugget Atlantic City; Tropicana; Trump Plaza; and the Trump Taj Mahal, which has a partnership with Station Casinos-owned Ultimate Gaming.

Resorts Casino Hotel has an Internet permit but is not offering online gambling.

Separately, a poll conducted by Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind found more New Jersey residents want to smoke pot than gamble online.

The survey found 41 percent of respondents would support smoking marijuana recreationally if it became legal. That compares with 32 percent who support gambling over the Internet.

The poll finds support for online gambling has fallen, even as it enters its third full month and more than 150,000 online gambling accounts have been set up in the state.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Contact reporter Howard Stutz at hstutz@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3871. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.

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