Can online gambling save Atlantic City casinos?

By a nearly 2:1 margin, New Jersey's state house has passed an online gambling bill that will likely be approved by the state Senate but faces an uncertain reception by Gov. Chris Christie, writes Brian McGill, gambling analyst at Janney Capital Markets. 

What's at stake?  "This bill would allow ALL forms of gaming that is legal at brick and mortar casinos in Atlantic City. The operators in Atlantic City would have the licenses and the servers would need to be located in Atlantic City," McGill writes in a report to clients.

Industry studies claim "the US could be a $35 billion market when fully built out, if all online gaming was allowed," McGill adds. New Jersey's 9 million people could bet $1 billion of that, or more, "given the income levels and propensity to gamble in the state."

A 10% tax on $1 billion in bets would translate to a $100 million tax rake-off. Pay another 20% to equipment operators, that leaves north of $700 million for operators.

The Boyd Gaming/MGM-owned Borgata, for example, could boost revenues by $180 million "at little cost," which would "increase the value" of the partners' stake significantly. "We think this legislation could be a game-changer" for the Borgata, and for Boyd, McGill concludes. "This could also spur other states to move forward with online gaming legislation." 

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