Resorts Casino Hotel unveiled a first-in-the-nation Internet gambling lounge Thursday, the most recent move in the property’s aggressive campaign to become a frontrunner in the nascent U.S. online betting industry.
Drenched in woodgrain and other sleek finishes, the 1,000-square-foot cove adjacent to the casino floor could easily be confused with an Apple Store.
The tablets here aren’t for show, though — each of the 22 screens is a station for gamblers to place Internet bets.
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The actual revenue generated by the 22 gadgets will be marginal compared to the dollars being brought in by about 1,700 slot machines and about 70 table games positioned just outside the lounge.
The main aim is to get brick-and-mortar gamblers signed up on ResortsCasino.com. Once they have accounts, they’ll be able to gamble online, legally, on a full spectrum of casino-style games anywhere in New Jersey, the only state where that’s possible.
Many, if not all, of the gamblers who signed up in the lounge Thursday represent fresh cash being injected into New Jersey’s online betting industry, which launched in November 2013 and reported about $122.9 million in revenue last year, falling far short of predictions.
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Many analysts see limited opportunity for revenue growth in the United States’ brick-and-mortar casino industry, which is saturated with supply. But the people swarming the lounge Thursday — online betting newbies whose dollars won’t be cannibalized from other online gambling outfits — represent a rare opportunity for growth that doesn’t come at the expense of other operators.
“On any given week, we have tens of thousands of people on the property,” Resorts CEO Mark Giannantonio said.
The lounge, he said, is a place “designed and built for people that are here on property so they can, in a very fun and innovative way, experience online gaming right on the casino floor and be able to go through the sign-up process and experience all those things with the help of really skilled professionals.”
Morris Bailey, a real estate mogul and Atlantic City native who’s spent more than $70 million renovating Resorts since buying it in 2010, is betting big on online gambling.
Perhaps his boldest move yet is partnering with PokerStars. The online poker platform is wildly popular but has faced hurdles getting approved by regulators in the United States stemming from a federal indictment involving allegations of fraud, money laundering and illegal gambling offenses.
Bailey said Thursday that the long process of winning approval from the state Division of Gaming Enforcement “is coming to its conclusion,” and he expects to be pleased with the agency’s decision.
“When PokerStars is approved, we will be building a world-class poker room and they will bring many of their worldwide tournaments to Atlantic City,” he said.
He said PokerStars could double revenue in New Jersey’s online casino market. The industry, he said, “is still in its infancy.”
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