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Bringing a new revenue stream to Atlantic City's casinos

- Last modified: March 4, 2013 at 6:12 AM

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The Feb. 18 NJBIZ editorial (“Atlantic City in need of a hand, not online wagering”) suggests why go down the Shore, when you can sit at home in your pajamas and play poker and slots online? But that ignores research suggesting just the opposite. Online gaming can help grow the number of visitors back to levels needed to put Atlantic City on firm financial footing and drive future growth.

Dennis Farrell, senior casino debt analyst with Wells Fargo Securities, urged Gov. Chris Christie to sign my Internet gaming bill because his analysis determined that Internet gambling would increase visitors to casinos and help create jobs while generating up to $1.5 billion in new revenue for Atlantic City. Online games, Farrell suggested, would help Atlantic City casinos reach out to younger, web-savvy players who would never have considered a visit to a casino, but would now be groomed during their online and mobile play for visits with prizes, offers and tournaments. Farrell was blunt in his assessment: "In our opinion, this is one of the last chances the governor has to provide a lifeline to Atlantic City casinos."

Also, in a 2010 study by Econsult, researchers found that any cannibalization of existing casino visitors by online gaming would be more than offset by the vast pool of new customers being attracted to Atlantic City, and the recapturing of New Jersey players who have been leaving the state for casinos in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New York. In the end, online gaming will be a net positive for the state.

New Jersey will have to work hard to restore growth to Atlantic City. By recognizing and capitalizing on Internet games, and eventually sports betting, we can make sure New Jersey is a leader in the gaming industry for years to come and generate substantial dollars to help fund critical programs for seniors and the disabled which have been hurt by declining gaming taxes, in addition to saving thousands of jobs and creating thousands more.

Sen. Raymond J. Lesniak
(D-Union)

Gov. Chris Christie articulated the right tone in his new budget priorities, particularly as it relates to strategic investments in higher education and science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The Christie administration recognizes the simple formula that investing in the state's universities helps schools produce a talented local work force that will retain and attract businesses to New Jersey.

Currently, New Jersey ranks dead last when it comes to keeping our high school graduates in state for college, losing 28,000 more students than it attracts to attend our colleges and universities each year. This brain drain costs our state not only the money spent educating these students in grammar and high school, but also their future economic contributions when they build their professional lives outside of the state.

The governor initiated the STEM Scholars Program, which creates mentoring opportunities between New Jersey business leaders and the state's top high school and college students in STEM subjects. Programs like this will prepare New Jersey's top students for the highly skilled jobs of the future, which studies show increasingly will require a STEM background. It also supports our efforts with Mayor Dawn Zimmer to cultivate a tech hub in Hoboken, where we have already seen many new startups develop over the past few years.

Nariman Farvardin,
president Stevens Institute of Technology
Hoboken

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