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The state should go all in with Internet gambling

Let's forget about the bizarre timing of introducing online gambling in New Jersey during the week of Thanksgiving (and to think, some were outraged that retail shopping was infringing upon this family day). And let's imagine there were no glitches in the online rollout, which began last Tuesday following a five-day soft launch (because unlike other sites, we're confident the capitalists that run them will make sure they actually run).

Let's just discuss the idea of online gambling and come to the only realistic conclusion: Online gambling is a good thing. And there should be more of it.

This isn't a statement on morality or even gambling itself — that argument was settled by a state referendum in 1976. This is just business. And for too long, New Jersey has had its head deep in the sand under the Atlantic City boardwalk, trying to pretend it had the East Coast monopoly on casino money.

New Jersey was slow to react to the growth of gaming on Native American lands or on riverboats that never moved. State officials fooled themselves when they refused to allow for slot machines at racetracks, fearing it would take business away from Atlantic City when all it did was shift business away from New Jersey. And sports gambling was a fight that never should have been picked.

Online gambling is a way for New Jersey to reclaim its spot in the industry. And we agree with the recently proposed bill by Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union) that would open up New Jersey's Internet gaming program to customers around the world. Internet gaming is a “worldwide industry,” Lesniak said. “There's no reason why we shouldn't be a part of it.”

And there are billions of reasons why New Jersey should. Adam Ozimek, a senior economist and director of research at the Philadelphia-based Econsult Solutions, feels Lesniak's plan has the potential to add anywhere from 4,700 to 7,900 new jobs and generate $2.2 billion to $3.8 billion in new revenue.

Outside states were able to take so much away from Atlantic City's behemoth casinos with so little (who thought slot machines at a track in Delaware would be worth so much?). But this is a time where New Jersey's long history of big-name gambling institutions will pay off. New Jersey has an opportunity to become the online gambling center of the world. After so many years of losing, this would be a major win for the house.

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