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Breaking
Online gaming revenues continue to grow

ATLANTIC CITY — When Gov. Chris Christie signed internet gaming legislation into law in February 2013, it was touted as another option that would make the resort’s gaming market more competitive.

Through October, internet gaming revenue has totaled $204.2 million, up 26.7 percent over last year. But while internet gaming has boosted casino and state tax revenues, it hasn’t led to more people coming to the resort or jobs in the resort, gaming experts said.

“It has been a positive for Atlantic City, providing some profitability,” said Steve Norton, who runs a consulting company, Norton Management LLC. “Online Gaming does little for job creation, constructing casino resorts, and nothing for state tourism.”

Since becoming legal in 2013, casinos have generated more than $681 million in revenue from internet gaming, while the state has been able to generate $89.8 million in tax revenue.

“Online gambling now accounts for some 10 percent of all casino revenue generated by Atlantic City casinos, which is a staggering total for such a young industry,” said Steve Ruddock, lead analyst for PlayNJ.com, an internet gambling advocacy group. “The bottom line is that legal online gambling has become an incredibly competitive market with many winners, and that has undoubtedly been a boom for New Jersey.”

The state’s online gaming market looks set to continue to grow in the coming years after Gov. Chris Christie announced that online players in the state will be able to play against people in Nevada and Delaware. Christie said pooling players will enhance annual revenue growth, attract new customers and create new opportunities for players and Internet gambling operators.

“Online gaming has been the proverbial rising tide for Atlantic City casinos,” Ruddock said. “Once struggling, Atlantic City casinos are now the healthiest they have been in years, and the legal online gambling market has played a critical role in that revival.”

Anthony Marino, an independent transportation analyst, said internet gaming has covered up for reduction in brick and mortar revenue. Marino said internet gaming accounted for 87 percent of the revenue increases during the third quarter of 2017.

“Online gaming provides a new source of revenue with minimal costs but has not apparently boosted visitor numbers which in turn may explain decreases in the other indicators of Atlantic City tourism,” Marino said


Education
Pinelands Regional parents warn athletes from other districts of possible exposure to asbestos

LITTLE EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — A group of concerned parents from the Pinelands Regional School District want to make parents from other school districts aware of possible exposure to asbestos after a roofing project gone awry closed the high school indefinitely in October.

Calling themselves Parents on a Mission, the grass-roots group, led by Little Egg Harbor Township resident Dane Apgar, believes athletes from other districts may have been exposed to asbestos while playing games at Pinelands Regional High School from August through October.

“Due to concerns for our own children, we feel it necessary to inform all parents of students who have played outdoor sporting events at the Pinelands complex this fall that their child may have been exposed to asbestos. We are in the midst of calling for a complete investigation into this matter,” Apgar wrote in a letter submitted to The Press this week.

Pinelands Regional administrators receive verbal lashing from parents over high school construction

Pinelands Regional Superintendent Maryann Banks did not respond to a request for comment Friday.

According to the most recent environmental test results dated Nov. 27, testing was done Nov. 16 and 17 around the perimeter of the school, which found two areas with elevated levels of the asbestos material Chrysotile. In the results letter, posted on the district website, the district’s environmental consultant, TTI Environmental, said it believes the asbestos to be debris from the ongoing roofing project.

Pinelands Regional Nov. 27 asbestos results

TTI recommends in the letter that all landscape beds and grass areas be raked to ensure “all roofing debris is identified and disposed of properly.”

On the district website, a “Construction Q & A” section has been added that includes answers to parents’ questions from two meetings in November, as well as an undated question from Patty and Ken Persichetti asking why children are being allowed on playing fields.

Pinelands Regional students begin split class sessions

“You found asbestos on surrounding perimeter of high school, what makes you think the fields are safe?” the Persichettis asked.

The answer posted from Banks states she has directed that no students should be on the fields pending test results from TTI.

Banks acknowledges this answer conflicts with an answer from the Nov. 6 Pinelands Board of Education meeting when a parent asked if the playing fields had been tested. At the time, Chuck Romanoli, of New Road Construction, the construction manager on the project, answered there was no airborne asbestos because it would be too heavy to blow in the wind.

Banks subsequently responded, “Despite that statement I have requested that TTI conduct testing of soil in adjacent fields, including the field directly across from the high school. TTI advises that they expect to have the results no later than Monday, Nov. 20.” Those results had not been posted to the district website as of Friday.

Friday’s news comes after growing parent concern regarding the ongoing roofing project at Pinelands Regional High School, which has been closed since the end of October after a screw fell on a student. The district closed for several days in early November due to asbestos contamination.

Pinelands Regional reopens to students Tuesday after asbestos contamination

Because of the closing of the high school, students in the district are on split sessions at the junior high and will remain so at least through winter break at the end of December, according to the latest press release on the matter from the district, dated Nov. 8.


Weather
What's in a (winter storm) name?

Juno. Nemo. Jonas.

These are names that might stick in your memory. When The Weather Channel began naming winter storms during the winter of 2012-13, senior meteorologist Bryan Norcross explained, “It’s simply easier to communicate about a complex storm if it has a name, which our naming program has demonstrated.”

Adam Rainear, a doctoral student at the University of Connecticut’s Department of Communications, wanted to find out if “easier to communicate” meant easier for the public to understand as well.

Winter storm naming is a controversial topic in the weather community. AccuWeather, based in State College, Pennsylvania, has publicly come out against the naming. In addition, the National Weather Service does not name winter storms.

“If there were climate change, people would say, ‘Where is your information? Prove it.’ So, instead of having people arguing, I wanted to use science and data to prove whether this is actually effective,” Rainear often thought to himself, he said.

Sampling 407 university students as part of his Mass Communications graduate class, Rainear, Kenneth Lachlan and Carlyon Lin designed an experiment to test their theory. He designed three Tweets that looked like they came from The Weather Channel, explaining the threat for a winter storm.

One Tweet did not use a storm name, one used a name from their 2014-15 list, Zelus — which was not used that winter — and one used an “Americanized name,” Bill.

Then he asked the students to rate each Tweet based on three factors: source credibility, favorable reaction to the name, and severity of susceptibility (how severe they believed the storm would be).

What did the results show?

In terms of source credibility, the participants gave the Tweet with no name at all a 3 out of 5. A Tweet with Bill and Zelus scored lower, 2.83 to 2.93, respectively, but that was not found to be significant, Rainear said.

Patrick Orlando, of Linwood, echos these findings.

“Whether it’s a winter storm bringing 10 inches of snow or Winter Storm Celeste, I am going to prepare the same way,” Orlando said.

Talking about whether the type of name had an impact, Rainear said, “The Americanized names did not have any difference in importance compared to the off the wall names.”

However, The Weather Channel says, “The storm-naming program raises awareness and reduces the risks, danger and confusion for residents in the storms’ paths.”

A typical argument from the meteorological community against the Weather Channel’s naming of winter storms is that it is used as a promotional or marketing tool. It would be better if the government issued a name, similar to tropical storms and hurricanes now.

Turns out, the American Meteorological Society is doing just that. Rainear is the co-chair of the Ad Hoc Committee on Naming Winter Storms, which is in charge of discussion and additional research of whether the National Weather Service should give out the names. Rainear works with meteorologists, including from The Weather Channel and the government, to find a solution.

“The question going forward should be less about whether the type of name is useful to the public perception, but whether having a name it is useful at all,” he said.