Online Gambling in Atlantic City

For better or for worse, online gambling is coming to New Jersey.

In late February, Chris Christie officially signed into law a bill that legalized internet gambling in Atlantic City.

Initially the bill was vetoed by the Governor because of issues surrounding transparency and taxes. Lawmakers adjusted the text and the amended bill passed by an overwhelming majority in the legislature and earned Christie’s seal of approval.

Here are the basics of the bill:

- Casinos located in Atlantic City will be able to apply for a license to offer online gambling. Only the twelve official Atlantic City casinos will be eligible for the license. No other organizations can offer internet gambling, and face stiff fines if they do. All facilities used for the operation of internet gambling must be located within city limits; only bets that are received by a server in Atlantic City will be legal.

- Players must be “physically present” in New Jersey to place wagers. In the future, New Jersey may develop agreements with other states where internet gambling is legal to permit out-of-state gambling. The casino’s equipment must verify players’ locations before accepting wagers.

- Any games available to play in the casinos can be played online. (For comparison, Nevada only allows poker.) As of now, sports betting will not be protected by this bill, although the state of New Jersey is trying to fight the federal statute barring the legalization of sports betting.

- The bill has all kinds of provisions to keep gambling addiction at bay, such as requiring the prominent display of the 1-800-GAMBLER hotline number, a way to set maximum bets and losses over a certain period of time, and tracking player losses to identify and limit users who may demonstrate addictive gambling behavior.

- Revenue from online gambling will carry a 15% tax. The Christie administration states that about $180 million in revenue for the state will be generated from this tax, but some analysts think this number is seriously overestimated.

The official regulations, which the bill required the Division of Gaming Enforcement to produce, were released on June 3, and are subject to a “public comment period” until August 2 before being finalized. These rules include details such as how a casino acquires the appropriate licenses and procedures for maintaining network security on gambling sites.

So, will online gambling actually benefit the state?

The Good

Revenues from Atlantic City casinos have been on the decline for the past seven years, and online gambling could be what saves the failing casinos. Since 2006, casino revenue has dropped from $5.2 billion to around $3 billion. Online gambling could be a $500 million to $1 billion industry in New Jersey, which may be enough to keep struggling casinos afloat and save jobs in Atlantic City. Further, even though estimates of tax revenue are all over the map, there is potential for online gambling to be a considerably valuable source of money for the state. The casinos will also have to pay a tax to the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, which will provide further assistance to struggling casinos in Atlantic City.

For the player, low overhead costs mean better prizes and more opportunities to play. Casinos can incent players with free “chips” that have minimal costs for them but give players more opportunities to play and win. The convenience of gambling online allows players to play more with less travel.

BAD:

One of the goals of the bill is supposedly to attract more people to visit the brick-and-mortar casinos, but it is hard to say if online gambling will actually lead to this outcome. One could speculate it could even cause people to go to the casinos less (However, this seems unlikely; the social element and the free drinks are lost in online gambling. Also, research indicates that, at least with poker, internet gaming does not reduce casino gaming.) Advertising for the host casino will be allowed on the online gambling sites, which could possibly encourage people to visit the casino but could also be annoying for players.

Online gambling could be seriously devastating for people who have gambling addictions, or even cause people to develop them, raising financial and moral concerns. Even with all the preventative steps the bill requires, it will definitely be much harder to cut off compulsive gamblers if they can place bets anywhere with an internet connection.

Regardless, it is going to be a while before the casinos can actually kick off their online gambling offerings. The regulations need to be finalized and casinos need to apply for licensure and develop their gambling websites. This means the casinos will not be enjoying this new source of revenue during the 2013 summer season, which could be Atlantic City’s toughest season ever following recovery from Hurricane Sandy.

The Indian Home Textile Industry Is Gaining Global Foothold

Two decades back, stylish interiors or beautiful indoors were in minds of only a few homeowners. Most of the houses had limited stock of bed linen and bedsheets, which were washed and reused again and again. Home textiles and furnishings were majorly seen in the market during festivals only.

Now, thanks to the increasing number of households, growth of Indian retailing, rising disposable incomes, growth of the housing, hospitality and healthcare sectors along with mounting consumerism, we are witnessing a change in Indian middle-class lifestyle. People now, especially the young working couples, spend a considerable amount on interiors to give a trendy and modern look to their homes. All these factors have increased the demand for home textile products by 30-40% per annum.

Further, with e-commerce giants adding home segments to their websites, home furnishings and textiles have become even more appealing to the public. Be it cut-length curtains or readymade home textile items, the whole process of shopping has become hassle-free. A growing demand for high-quality home furnishings on e-commerce websites from around the world can be seen clearly.

India, in particular, is a home to some of the biggest home textile manufacturers including the likes of Welspun (3rd largest towel producer), Dicitex (5th largest furnishing fabrics producer) and Trident (largest terry towel manufacturer). Additionally, several Indian brands such as Spread, Birla Century, Super Net, ABN, etc. are renowned globally and growing at a healthy pace. Even some of the international brands, such as UCB, Espirit Home and many others, have witnessed a growth rate of 20-30% in the Indian home textile market.

The home textile industry in India is varied in terms of pricing, colours, design and even consumers. There are some who prefer international brands with no constraint on price while there are consumers who look for high volume at reasonable prices. Today, a consumer is becoming highly aware of the environment, safety and hygiene and thus, the demand for features like stain-resistant, fragrance, flame retardant in home textiles has gone exponentially high.

In 2014, India’s share in global home textiles was 11% that suggested a strong potential to grow. Indian textile companies get some favourable advantages in the rising global market. These include the huge availability of low-cost cotton, cheap labour, promising Government policies and the current trend of depreciation of Indian Rupee vis-à-vis foreign currency. All these factors have supported the potential of Indian textile players to reach great heights in the segment.

Mayank Mohindra is an author on apparel, fashion and textile industry. His articles are based on latest apparel industry news, textile news and/or analysis of the dynamics of global apparel trade, and fashion industry.