NJ Lawmaker Worried Keno Game Will Harm AC Casinos

Ralph Caputo

A new keno-style game available in New Jersey has one lawmaker worried about casinos in Atlantic City.

For decades, the main gaming option available in the state of New Jersey was casinos found in Atlantic City. Over the years, additional gaming options have been added, such as online casino and poker games. Late last year, a new game was added to the lottery of the state, providing even more options for gamblers. However, a lawmaker of NJ is now worried that this game will take away business from the casinos in Atlantic City.

Hurting AC Business

Ralph CaputoCasinos in Atlantic City have been on the up and up over the past year or so, after experiencing a several year downturn. It seems online gaming helped to bring revenues to cover the problems plaguing the land-based industry and now gamers are hitting the Atlantic City casinos once again. However, a new keno-style game has Representative Ralph Caputo worried about the gaming business of the gambling town.

Quick Draw is a new lottery game that has been available in New Jersey for about six months now. The game is played in keno style and Caputo feels that the option will take away from the casinos of the region. According to Caputo, former Governor Chris Christie did not give much notice to lawmakers when deciding to allow the new game to take place.

The new lottery game can be found in restaurants and bars, having been launched back in August. Players need only wager $1 to play or as much as $10 per game. To try and stop the impact of the game on existing casinos, Representative Caputo has decided to co-sponsor a measure involving Quick Draw games.

The new measure would stop the game from taking place every five minutes and cut down game play to just 2x a day. Rep Caputo stated that the subject is a sensitive issue and anytime a new game is introduced, it could take away the market share from an existing casino.

Not Too Much Support

During a recent committee hearing, only two people were on hand to testify on the matter. Bob Marshall, the legislative affairs director of the Greater Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce, and Diane Weiss, the Executive Director of the New Jersey Licensed Beverage Association. Representatives of the Treasury and Lottery did not attend the meeting.

Marshall showed support for the measure, stating that the game is an expansion into casino-style gaming. However, Weiss was opposed to the measure. She represents the vendors and does not see a problem with the Quick Draw game. Weiss pointed out during the meeting that customers will order food and drinks while at the establishments that offer the lottery games.

Will There Be An Impact?

It’s too early to tell if the games will actually impact the industry in Atlantic City. Last month, it was reported by the Division of Gaming Enforcement that casinos in the region were able to see their second straight year of revenue growth. In 2017, the casinos earned $2.41 billion. Each of the seven operating casinos were able to see gains in annual revenue earnings last year.

Surprisingly, lottery tickets sales have hit a slump. For 2017, the lottery finally saw a streak of sales for seven years come to an end. Last year, the state sold $3.186 billion in tickets and the year previous, $3.289 billion were sold. Budget projections for last year saw earnings reaching $30 million more than what was actually earned.

For now, it seems the legislation does not have enough support to move forward. We shall see in the coming weeks how the bill develops and if it is able to move forward.