It is hard to believe that Atlantic City casinos have been closed for three weeks.
The state is surely feeling the economic impact. For instance, in February, the tax revenue from gambling equaled nearly $30 million for casino and sports betting activity.
While the revenue from NJ online casinos will never compare to their land-based counterparts, an uptick online casino revenue is already being seen.
Casino customers are also feeling the impact. For many, their weekly visit to the casino was a form of entertainment and provided a much-needed break from daily responsibilities.
While we are lucky that New Jersey is one of the few states that have legal online gambling, it can be a double-edged sword.
The good news is the state will likely make up some of the revenue shortfalls as more people transition to online casino gambling.
On the other hand, the state’s stay-at-home order and nonessential business closures have resulted in too many people suddenly unemployed and with too much time on their hands.
Turning to online casinos for entertainment is one thing; turning to it to pass the time or as a source of income is another.
It is fair to say that the current health crisis has brought about conditions that make it all too easy for casino players to develop a gambling habit.
“We believe every risk factor for gambling problems is increasing right now,” said Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling to the Press of Atlantic City.
“It’s kind of a perfect storm. (Casino) closures and quarantine can increase risk factors. There’s a shift to online gambling — which may have some higher risk factors — and then the impact on state budgets (for gambling addiction resources and programs) may disproportionately impact available behavioral health services.”
When online casino gambling becomes a problem
New Jersey online casinos and sportsbooks are aware of the potential pitfalls associated with online gambling. As such, and as part of their license requirement, they fund the Council of Compulsive Gambling in New Jersey, otherwise known as 1-800-Gambler.
The website has a wealth of information designed to help determine if someone might be at risk of developing a gambling problem. More importantly, it has services to help those that need it.
There is no doubt, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on our daily lives has muddied the waters. What used to be normal behaviors might not be reasonable under the circumstances.
Oftentimes, someone with a gambling problem might not even realize it until it is too late.
The 800-Gambler website has a series of questions to help determine if you or someone you know might be at risk. Questions include:
- Have you ever felt remorse after gambling?
- Did you ever gamble longer than you had planned?
- After losing, did you feel you must return as soon as possible and win back your losses?
- Did you ever gamble to get money with which to pay debts or otherwise solve financial difficulties? Does gambling cause any problems with sleep?
You can find the full list of questions here.
Gambling regularly doesn’t mean you have a problem; however, it doesn’t mean you don’t either.
What is important is to take notice of recent changes in your gambling patterns and ask yourself those questions.
Have a game plan and stick to it
Earlier this month and before the coronavirus pandemic forced the shutdown of AC casinos and sportsbooks, the American Gaming Association (AGA) introduced its latest campaign to address problem gambling.
It is called Have A Game Plan. While it is sports betting focused, it applies to all forms of gambling.
“This is a watershed moment for sports betting in the United States,” said Bill Miller, president and CEO of the AGA.
“It’s more important than ever that the gaming industry, and our new partners in the sports betting ecosystem, are proactive in equipping patrons with the tools they need to engage in these offerings in a responsible manner.”
The Have A Plan campaign highlights four responsible gambling principles:
- Establish a budget and keep it.
- Make sure you are gambling for entertainment.
- Research and learn the games you play.
- Gamble with licensed and regulated online casinos and sportsbooks.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, of New York, said the following during his Sunday briefing:
“I have cabin fever. You have cabin fever. What are we going to do about it?”
In New Jersey, and throughout much of the nation, our daily routines are on pause. The fact that we must stay at home has everyone scrambling for ways to pass the time. Let’s face it; a person can only take so much Tiger King.
Some new habits will likely develop with all of this “free” time we suddenly have. Of course, some habits will make our lives better and those that will make our lives more challenging.
Being aware of the habits we develop during this time of self-isolation will be crucial when it comes time to re-enter a society that doesn’t require a six-foot bubble.
All that glitters is not gold
With all major sports leagues suspended, the NJ sports betting crowd has been looking for other betting opportunities.
You might have seen odds on things like:
- The weather
- Marble races
- Who will star in the Tiger King movie
At online casinos, you might have seen progressive jackpots in the multimillions advertised.
All of those bets are illegal in New Jersey. While NJ often sees jackpots in the six-figures, a multimillion jackpot should cause you to take a closer look at the site.
Don’t be lured by illegal offshore sportsbooks and casinos that are taking advantage of the current situation.
Your money and information are not protected, and you have no recourse should you find unfair gameplay or questionable business practices.
You can research legal New Jersey online casinos and sportsbooks right here on Play NJ. If a casino or sportsbook is not on our site, it is not legal to play on it.
As we navigate a new normal during uncertain times, make sure you have a game plan the next time you sit down at your favorite NJ online casino or sportsbook.