Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

A Poor Bet

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

A Poor Bet

Article excerpt

WE HAVE been from the outset somewhat skeptical of the state's venture into Internet gambling. We have never been confident that it will provide a needed boost to Atlantic City casinos, and we are unconvinced that it will be a net plus for the state, especially when one considers the array of ills that gambling addiction can bring.

Indeed, just last week the New Jersey Lottery, teaming up with the Council on Compulsive Gambling, began a campaign to discourage adults from buying lottery tickets as holiday gifts for children, indicating that such a present could lead to gambling problems for those children as they enter adulthood.

"Parents really can make a difference and reduce the risk of children developing gambling problems," said Donald Weinbaum, the council's executive director. The groups cited a 2012 Yale University study that found minors who received instant lottery tickets as gifts tended to begin gambling earlier in life.

Now, let's try balancing that troubling thought with New Jersey elected officials' seeming obsession with online gaming.

State Sen. Ray Lesniak, D-Union, one of the early proponents of Internet gambling in the state, predicted that the launch of online wagering would allow the state to become a "Silicon Valley of Internet gaming" as later-arriving states look to New Jersey for technology help once the play is legalized there.

The official rollout of the state's newly legalized Internet gambling sites -- after a five-day "soft launch" -- did not go quite as smoothly as some operators or proponents might have liked. Indeed, the early problems with in-state residents signing up to wager online bear resemblance to those experienced by people seeking to buy new health insurance plans under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's website. Though the online gambling web issues are not expected to be as extensive or as long- lasting, Staff Writer John Brennan reported that only about 60 percent of those attempting to sign up for online gaming were successful on the first day of activation, Nov. …

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