Norton: Legalizing Online Gaming & Sports Betting Was A Mistake

Steve Norton believes we need to rethink online gambling and sports betting. We tend to agree with Steve.

Norton: New Jersey was right to legalize Sports Betting, but I think it was a mistake to allow it online; joining casino games, which I also think was a mistake.

With casino gaming only in Atlantic City, I can understand why the State of NJ is trying to recapture some of $3 billion in casino win, lost when PA and NY added gaming.

But there was another way to recapture at least a $ billion in win: by approving a slot or full casino at the Meadowlands; which would also have reinstated at least $200 million annually to NJ senior and disabled programs. It would also generate another $200 million to programs benefiting Atlantic City.

This would have been possible, because Jeff Gural, track owner, was agreeable to pay the same slot tax as Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, that referendum had the same language as the failed one in 1974, that would have allowed any county to have a casino. The referendum that legalized casinos in 1976 passed, because it only allowed gaming in Atlantic City.

A Meadowlands casino would have recaptured most of the lost North Jersey casino play, but now eastern PA casinos, provide a more convenient option.

Also benefiting, NJ tax collections, a Meadowlands casino would have also offered a closer gaming option to residents, tourists, business travelers and convention attendees, from Manhattan, and its 100 thousand hotel rooms, as well as residents on Staten Island and many NY counties, north of NJ.

Unfortunately NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard), was even more soundly defeated than the 1974 results, although the residents of East Rutherford and Essex County has approved a casino, at the Meadowlands, and already handle excess traffic, as home of the Sports Complex, Met Life Stadium, the new Entertainment Mall, and the annual home of the New Jersey Fair. They have superior highway access from I-95, US 3, and rail service, all within 15 minutes from midtown Manhattan.

David Cordish, Chairman of the Cordish Company, owner of Maryland Live Casinos; was correct: commercial casinos would be better off without having to compete with online gaming, and online sports betting.

If states insist on offering sports betting on a smart phone or computer, perhaps they could limit play to game outcomes only. Leave in-game and proposition bets to commercial gaming establishments that can offer a superior sports viewing experience, along with many dining, entertainment, gaming and overnight options, that all provide more tax revenue than online sports betting.


  1. ATLANTIC CITY-Golden Nugget poised to make internet gaming history | Casinos & Tourism | press of Comment By Anthony Marino, July 5, 2019 This interesting online article has not yet been in the Press of AC print edition.  The article discusses why online gaming, especially internet casino gambling, is now driving the AC market.  Resorts is doing best in online sports wagering while the Golden Nugget is by far the leader in internet casino gambling.  But some of the folks quoted in this article are, in my view, not correct that these two new money makers are not (yet) hurting the AC brick and mortar gaming results. Because they are, online gaming has the potential to make the early adopting casinos prosper with minimal investment, like the GN and Resorts, while jeopardizing the future of the other local casinos that invested millions and have become major full-service total resorts.  Online gaming, like did to Sears, Penny’s, and other retail dinosaurs, may put some “big box” casino resorts ultimately out of business.

    Steve Norton comment: July 5, 2019= AC: Not A Typical Casino State.
    Today’s article indicates the growth of online gaming and online sports betting in Atlantic City far exceeds other states, even Nevada; and there is a good reason for it. New Jersey has only one area offering slot machines and table games, Atlantic City, which is less convenient to over 90% of NJ’s population, than live gaming in PA, NY and DE. Online gaming also allows New Jersey to compete with illegal overseas gaming sites, that pay no taxes, employee no US citizens, have little or no oversight, and may offer inferior odds.But there are several serious disadvantages to having casino games and betting on sports available on smart phone and computers. First is the very likely increase in compulsive gambling, especially among lower income individuals. Second is the potential competition with the NJ Lottery, where the State is trading a 1% or lower sports betting tax (on bets made), for the 30% to 40% now earned on various lottery games. Third, by the availability of betting from home, the risk of minors using a parent credit card or bank info, to play illegally. In Germany and the United Kingdom, this has become a serious problem, where 30% or more minors are betting illegally. And finally, in the United States, where we have introduced major casino resorts, riverboat casinos, and racinos, which have been copied in Asian countries, but are very rare in Europe and the UK; our online gaming and sports betting could put many of these operations, their tax contributions and their employees at risk of property closures.In my view, their are other ways we can compete with illegal overseas gaming sites and US bookmakers; by creating out own sports betting parlors, in communities that are inconvenient to live casino sites. These would offer a far superior viewing experience for all sports, and would provide more tax revenues, with food and beverage sales, and possibly slot machine play; than online gaming sites. And sports parlors would be restricted to adults only, and should be owned and operated by AC’s casino developers. 

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