Virgin Group to launch online gambling in NJ

Someone is about to hit the jackpot in Atlantic City, but it's not a lucky slots player. No, the big windfall is coming to The Virgin Group, which on Friday opens its new online gambling site in New Jersey. 

Online gambling began in New Jersey in late November, and couldn't have come at a better time for the beleaguered casinos in the state. Atlantic City's gaming revenue hit a high of $5.2 billion in 2006, but fell on hard times in recent years as gamblers flocked to new Indian casinos in Pennsylvania and New York, The Associated Press reports. Revenue from traditional gambling last year was expected to fall to around $3 billion.

It's not surprising, then, that the 12 casinos in Atlantic City have been anxious to rev up online gambling operations, and many have partnered with such companies as 888 Holdings, PokerStars and Gamesys Limited, which runs the jackpotjoy.com website. People have to be within New Jersey's state lines to play.

 Virgin Casino is one of 15 Internet gambling sites given the regulatory green light. New Jersey is the third state to allow online gaming, joining Nevada and Delaware.

Online gambling is off to a slow start in the state, and is so far dominated by two casinos: The Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa and Caesars Interactive. Other companies that have had less success include Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort, Tropicana Casino and Resort, and the Golden Nugget.

In the last five weeks of 2013, the websites brought in just $8.4 million in revenue. But for 2014, revenue is expected to jump to as much as $500 million. And Gov. Chris Christie is hopeful the tally can climb to $1 billion.

Virgin, which also partnered with Gamesys, had to delay its gaming site after running into problems with login and payment issues, The AP reports. But now it's making up for lost time with a flashy approach one would only expect from Virgin's founder, billionaire Richard Branson. It's offering a much-talked about community jackpot, which rewards all players with a bit of money every time someone wins a jackpot.

  • Kim Peterson

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