Real online casino games are now legal in New Jersey and two other states.
Last week, after days of beta testing, anyone inside the borders of New Jersey can lawfully sign on to one of the state’s 13 online casinos and place a bet. While online gambling is seen as a boon to the state’s casino and tax wallets, the launch has not gone without technical difficulties.
Commercials advertising the online casinos have saturated TV stations, radio stations, mailboxes, and the internet. Every time I sign onto Facebook, I see at least a couple of ads for the new casinos.
On November 26th at 12:01, 13 online casinos were allowed to start taking real money wagers inside New Jersey’s borders. All 13 online casinos are connected to six real brick and mortar casinos in Atlantic City. AC has been losing gamblers for years, since neighboring states began opening casinos of their own a few years ago. Now, each is legally allowed to open multiple online casinos and take a share of the profits. Most have already affiliated with existing online casinos that were mostly barred from the US, after a silly law was passed and their domains seized by the feds in 2006. While these operators couldn’t run sites in the US, they ran at full force overseas.
The Atlantic City skyline as seen in a recent episode of American Dad on FOX.
So far, three states in the US permit online gambling: Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey. This is the first major expansion of gambling in the Garden State, since it was legalized in 1978. Over 52,000 online accounts have been created since the beta test started and 5,000 being opened on Thanksgiving Day, alone.
The six casinos offering online gambling sites are:
Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa
Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort
Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino
Tropicana Casino & Resort
Bally’s Atlantic City
Caesar’s Atlantic City
The Golden Nugget Atlantic City is working out some technical issues (rumored to involve social security numbers) that kept its license on ice. They should be back online soon.
A game of online roulette in progress.
New Jersey governor Chris Christie expects online gambling to bring more than $1 billion to the state by July 1. $160 million of that would directly go to the state in taxes.
The casino software uses geo-tracking to make sure the computer or mobile device is within the states borders. If the software cannot verify the location, it will not permit any real wagers to be made. Unfortunately a little known hiccup of this limits all wagering to be done on Wi-Fi networks. No hard wire computers are able to make bets, since the location cannot be verified according to state law.
A typical error message players will see if they try to play from outside New Jersey’s state borders.
When opening an account, the player is required to enter their name, address, social security number, and wireless phone number. The wireless number is used to send verification texts to the account holder. Another red flag happens to players who have multiple addresses which can cause the software to be unable to verify their location via a background check.
Since I live in the Garden State and have for years, I tried three different sites. But, even I had a great deal of trouble signing on.
Star Trek online slot as featured in the Borgata online casino.
The casino that made Atlantic City hip has opened two online casinos, borgatacasino.com and borgatapoker.com. While both use the same account, two different software downloads are required to play. Borgata does offer a few games to play directly on their web sites, downloading the software gives access to more games and richer graphics.
Borgata has partnered with IGT Gaming (a legend in the business and their games are all over casino floors.) This allows the Borg to offer authentic casino video poker machines, but also big name slots that you would find on a real casino floors such as Star Trek, Ghostbusters, Kitty Glitter, Wolf Run, Cleopatra, and more.
Star Trek online slot bonus round from the Borgata online casino. Most of the online slots feature bonus rounds.
Once you open an online account, the Borgata offers you $20 in free play. During signup, you will be required to download a small plug-in that will verify your New Jersey location. It’s safe and you have no choice but to activate the plug in or you can’t play by law.
I also deposited an additional $20 via electronic check from my checking account, which was very easy. All they require is your bank account and routing number. Borgata, along with other sites, also offers credit card deposits.
They also have an online player card loyalty system that offers comps similar to what you will find in the MyBorgata slot card program. They offer the same tiers, such as Red, Black, and Titanium level that rewards comps and free play the more you wager, but on a monthly basis. Unfortunately, it is NOT connected to the physical Atlantic City account. Hopefully, that will change immediately. I would like to use my comps across both platforms, online and in the real casino in Atlantic City. I might be inclined to play more, if I know there is a chance I might be offered a free room at the hotel.
In fact, I just noticed while signing onto their site to write this blog, they just added a new Monopoly online slot. Applause to them for already upgrading!
Borgata online casino error message.
Unfortunately, many of the games have the tendency to crash and completely lock up the software. They offer a rich, graphic environment, complete with bonus rounds – but the slots constantly crash. Sometimes, you only get in a spin or two before the game peters out.
That gets even more frustrating when you are in a bonus round and the software loses connection to the server and causes a major crash. You don’t lose any money and the game usually will re-launch and continue your bonus. But, many times, I was only offered a blue screen and had to CONTROL+ALT+DELETE to hard crash and relaunch the entire application.
If the software crashes in the middle of a bonus round, it’s OK — it will start off where you stopped once the game is reopened.
Last Saturday, most of the games were offline and offered weird errors as “the game could not be played with the current currency selected.” Even though, I was playing in American dollars. I called the 800 number for help and was on hold more than 20 minutes both times before I gave up.
When the games do work, I’ve had quite a bit of fun, and have gotten a ton of play for my $20 investment, plus the $20 bonus. In fact, I’m up!
Sadly, all of their technical glitches may permanently turn off some players, who can easily sign on to more trustworthy sites. I would suggest waiting a bit and letting the Borgata completely overhaul their software before giving their site a try.
Rating: Average (Excellent once glitches are fixed)
Borgata also operates borgatapoker.com
Partnered with the Tropicana Atlantic City, Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin empire has moved into the online gambling business. Virgin Casino offers up to a $50 reimbursement of your initial loss within the first seven days.
Virgin’s site does not require any software downloading. While they offer all of the same IGT games as the Borgata, playing inside a web browser can make the games appear small on the screen. A recent software fix seems to have addressed this as the games are now appearing in a larger size.
The Ghostbusters slot machine at the Virgin online casino. Virgin makes it easy to understand your total balance by constantly displaying it near the top of the screen.
Virgin offers Virgin points for the money you wager. These can be cashed in for free money to play the games. I opened my account with $50 (which I was able to deposit via electronic check from my checking account) and went through that in a couple of days. They instantly added the $50 bonus.
I somehow earned 6 points for my $75 in play. It seems to take thousands of points to get any online cash back. They have the exact offers posted on their site.
The Virgin online casino withdraw screen. This was a fairly easy process.
I played for some time longer and cashed out with $25 remaining. The cash out was fairly easy and they sent an email the following day noting the withdrawal had been processed and would be in my checking account in 3-5 business days. Why is withdrawing so easy, but depositing taking several days?
ULTIMATE CASINO (UCASINO.COM)
They have the flashiest commercials for online gambling airing on TV.
Their site offers a large selection, but not all, of the IGT games from Borgata and Virgin casinos.
Sadly, I was unable to play.
What happens if an online casino can’t verify your location… you get this.
I was successfully able to open an account in which they offer $5 in free cash and $20 in poker table play (only said in the fine print, their splashy ads offer a flat $25.)
According to their site, the games can be played online in a web browser or by downloading their app. Unfortunately, their app is online for Android devices, so sorry IPhone users.
The Loki plugin installing over and over again, with no luck.
Like Borgata, in order to play you are required to download a browser plug-in known as Loki to sign up and play. However, the plug-in would not work to locate me, even though I’m inside the Garden State and installed it again and again. I tried for over and hour rebooting the computer, checking their help FAQ, installing Mozilla Firefox as they suggest… but nothing.
Another option on their FAQ was to change the Windows registry to allow the games to play. Sorry, I am not a computer programmer and the registry file they offered for download won’t launch, either. There’s no reason to ask any player to alter their Windows registry. That’s just asking for trouble and its way more time than the $25 in free play is worth.
After two hours and two different days of attempts – I gave up on them.
They need to redesign the software, so installation is not this complicated. There are easier sites to sign onto out there.
I’ve also briefly checked out caesarscasino.com and harrahscasino.com, both operated by parent company Caesars Entertainment. These sites offer their own non-copyrighted slots and a few games found on the other sites. Many of the bigger slot games seemed to be missing here, however.
There are several more sites that I plan on checking out in the future and will report back here. My early findings seem to be that most operate with the same IGT games.
Sure, not everyone is ready for online gambling and it can be very easy to get in trouble. Some of the slots offer wagers as high as thousands of dollars on a single spin.
One night, in research for this blog, I was lying in bed playing the slots. While it is fun, it isn’t a substitute for a night out at a real casino. However, it does make it easy for those with a gambling problem to play at any time. You definitely will need self control, especially now that you can basically turn any dorm room, hotel room, service plaza, kitchen, and library into a casino.
New Jersey state law has online account deposits capped at $2,500. The online casino is required to contact the player at this point and verify if the player wishes to deposit more. Once the total reaches $15,000 in accounts across all state casinos, another warning check will be issued. The player also has the ability to control how much they can deposit at once as well.
As inside a real casino, a gambling hotline is available for anyone who needs help at 1-800-GAMBLER. While that’s a creative number, spelling out your troubles on a touch tone keypad seems to be the last kick in the teeth.
Playing Star Trek while watching Star Trek… only in New Jersey!
What: online gambling
Where legal: Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware – other states coming soon
Wagers start at: 1 cent
JERSEY JOE RECOMMENDS
New Jersey is by far not the only state that is looking to ante up to online gambling. Eight other states are working on similar laws: California, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and Texas. New York representative Peter King is also working on making it a federal law.
It looks like this technology is here to stay. Just as I’ve told you before – it’s up to you to bet with your head and not over it. If gambling is against your nature or religion, then you will most likely not be happy with this latest online offering.
And in full disclosure, I have shared with you my experiences signing up with these three particular online casinos. As with any form of wagering, your experience may differ. I’d love to hear how it goes for you!