by Ian Bush
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (CBS) – New Jersey has gotten into the online gambling business at just the right time. That’s according to a new report from a British research firm, which says the Garden State can grab the lion’s share of money from mobile play — if it plays its cards right.
Fifty thousand people and counting, signing up for Internet gambling by this second full week of such betting within New Jersey’s borders.
“And during the trial period, residents from 23 states tried to access these sites in New Jersey,” says Sian Rowlands, analyst with Juniper Research in Basingstoke, England. “So there’s clearly a demand for these services across the whole of the US.”
In the study, “Mobile Gambling: Casinos, Lotteries & Betting 2013-2018,” Rowlands looks at the state of online betting on smartphones and tablets — and says that’s where Atlantic City casinos should be concentrating their resources.
“We’re seeing some gambling operators in the UK that have almost half of their online revenues coming from mobile,” Rowlands says. “But these companies are having to transition to mobile first. In the US, you’ve got this opportunity to build from the ground up and create a real mobile solution. Tablets — they’re immersive, they’re personal, they’re with people 24/7, often on WiFi or high-speed wireless connectivity, so they connect to the Internet really quickly. They can create such an immersive experience on mobile, so mobile’s definitely the future.”
Delaware and Nevada also offer online gambling, but New Jersey’s a unique case.
“We’ve got a large population in this market,” Rowlands explains, “so there’s a lot of potential users, and the services which are allowed — casino services, poker services — there seems to be a demand for these services.”
That means casinos and tax coffers alike could see big bucks.
“At the moment,” Rowlands says, “we’re looking at 63 million mobile gambling users. But this will increase; by 2018, we’re expecting it to be about 164 million users.”
That’s worldwide. Rowlands says her research shows the US is seeing some of the fastest growth, with a half-million users of mobile casino services by 2015.
“This is starting from a really small base at the moment, so we’re going to see this really rapid growth over the next five years,” Rowlands says. “For New Jersey in particular, the market has all the factors, really, that it needs to become a key market in the US.”
She says mobile gambling could be a $100 billion business, globally, in just a four-year span.