Online gambling is real, folks.
By J. Phillip Vogel
Something few people realize from the “wild west” days on online gambling is that a large number of the non-payment offenses came from the players. Many players suffering their own panic and buyer remorse at the end of a gambling session just opted not to pay what they lost.
When online gambling was on the fringe in the U.S.—that is not quite legal, not quite illegal—years back before the UIGEA effectively put a stop to the fun, players sometimes found themselves at the mercy of an unscrupulous site. While not altogether common, it was a problem for some players who tried to cash out their winnings, only to be met with lengthy delays and sometimes no payment at all. With reputable sites, usually there was nothing to worry about. But some players who won a sizable amount had more than a little trouble trying to get their winnings into their bank account.
Part of the problem was there really wasn’t anyone with power on hand to enforce Net gambling—at least not in the U.S. So players not only took a risk by actually gambling; there was an omnipresent threat that they might never get paid at all even if they DID win.
Fast forward about a decade or so, and the handful of states that currently recognize online gambling as legal make sure that players are secure in their gaming. And they do enforce that. But listen up, players. The rules go both ways.
Something few people realize from the “wild west” days of online gambling is that a large number of the non-payment offenses came from the players. Call it panic, or buyer’s remorse—or more accurately fraud—some players opted not to pay what they lost. How’d they do that?
It was quite simple, really. Let’s say you decided to gamble online for a bit. You did your homework, found a site that suited you, and deposited the money, usually via a credit card. Once the funds were in place, you proceed to play. If you won, you cashed out. If you lost—especially if it was a sizable amount—you called up the credit card and disputed the charge. In many cases, the credit card company simply reversed the deposit—and viola, no more loss.
Sounds good right? I mean, now the debt is removed and no harm done. Of course, you did legitimately deposit the money, take the risk, and try your best to win. So by denying the debt was yours, your basically committed fraud—and got away with it.
But for those players who think that the same rules apply in online gambling’s recent incarnation, guess again. With online gambling now legal and recognized by the government, the enforcement goes both ways. Case in point: consider the following release from the New Jersey State Police:
New Jersey Woman Claims Identity Theft To Avoid Online Gambling Debt
On Wednesday, April 30, 2014, the New Jersey State Police charged a Jackson, N.J. woman with Theft by Deception, when she attempted to fool authorities by claiming that someone had stolen her identity, used it to create an online gaming account, and racked up gambling and banking fees totaling almost $10,000.
In January, the New Jersey State Police, working cooperatively with the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, began investigating a complaint from Diana Zolla, 31, of Jackson Township, alleging that someone had used her maiden name to create an online gaming account. Zolla maintained that her identity was stolen, and that the large online gambling debt of $9,565 did not belong to her.
By reviewing banking, online gaming, and internet service provider records, detectives from the New Jersey State Police Casino Gaming Bureau and the Financial Crimes Investigations Unit determined that Zolla was responsible for creating the fraudulent account.
She was arrested and charged with Theft by Deception, a 3rd degree crime. She was released pending a mandatory appearance at Atlantic County Superior Court.
Internet gaming became legal in New Jersey in November 2013. There have been 291,625 accounts opened since its inception. According to the Division of Gaming Enforcement, new accounts in March are up 17% from February.
“People who gamble online may be tempted to fabricate an identity theft complaint in order to avoid paying their debt,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “This criminal activity can only make a bad situation worse. The New Jersey State Police and the Division of Gaming Enforcement will continue to work cooperatively to aggressively enforce state laws that govern online gaming.”
“The Division of Gaming Enforcement and the State Police are committed to working together to deter fraudulent activity and instill confidence in internet gaming operations for all involved, including players, platform providers, and payment processors,” said David Rebuck, Director of the Division of Gaming Enforcement. “Suspicious transactions are thoroughly investigated, and as this case shows, attempts to defraud New Jersey casinos will not be tolerated.”
Think twice before you gamble. And think again if you think you’ll be able to get away saying it wasn’t you gambling, or that you didn’t know it was real money. The credit cards may have let you get away with it during the olden days, but the Wild West is over folks. There’s a new sheriff in town.
Tropicana Atlantic City Online (TropicanaCasino.com) announced a 41 percent revenue increase February to March from $1.345 million to $1.895 million. This steep boost is attributed to various factors such as increased registrations, promotions, the recent launch of its IOS app Trop.AC, and increased brand awareness.
“So far, we find that online gaming appeals to a brand new customer for us. Sixty-eight percent of our online customers are new to the Tropicana brand,” said Tony Rodio, President and CEO of Tropicana Entertainment. “While we are seeing substantial growth in the online side of the business, we are also seeing growth in our land-based numbers, which seems to dispel the notion that Internet gaming will cannibalize Atlantic City casinos. At this point, online gaming has allowed us to expand our audience and introduce the Tropicana experience to new faces.”
“Tropicana is one of the most trusted brands in the gaming market for both online and land-based gaming. We continue to create excitement and expand the online player’s experience through a variety of promotional offers, games and dedication to providing the best customer service out there,” said Steve Callender, Tropicana General Manager.
TropicanaCasino.com recently announced its newest promotion “Get Online to Get on Onboard” will award 50 cruises for Carnival Cruise Lines. In addition, online players can continue to submit their #ReasonToPlay moments at facebook.com/tropac for the chance to win a Grand Prize of a two-night stay and spa package at Tropicana Casino and Resort Atlantic City, throughout April.
In the coming months, online players can look forward to several new games including casino floor favorites like Elvis, Jaguar Princess, and Double Diamond, along with access to a new Android app.
Online Gambling Helping AC—But Not Quite Enough
New Jersey casinos brought in 15 percent more from online gambling in March over the previous month, but it wasn’t nearly enough to offset the diminishing revenue from Atlantic City’s long-struggling brick-and-mortar casinos.
According to the latest edition of a report by the state Division of Gaming Enforcement, in March, the casinos won $11.9 million from online bettors, a 15 percent increase over February, when the casinos’ take was $10.3 million. The state says 292,000 people are now registered to bet online in the state, an 18 percent increase over February. Online gambling, which was launched in November as the latest hope to reverse Atlantic City’s fortunes, hasn’t brought in the revenue that was expected.
Including the online revenue, Atlantic City’s 11 casinos won a total of $233 million in March 2014, down 2 percent from March 2013, when there were still 12 casinos operating. The Atlantic Club Casino Hotel closed in January of this year. The biggest share of the Internet gambling revenue went to Borgata, with $4.4 million; Caesars Interactive New Jersey was next with $3.7 million.