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.

Do You Road Rage? Why We Do, and What We Can Do About It

Living in a city like Los Angeles requires a commute on some form of Freeway (too many to list), a journey through bumper to bumper surface streets, and possibly a walk. All of this is cemented between our daily stressors of work and family.

It’s often common for us to leave home upset around time management issues, conflicts with loved ones, or the dread of going to a place of employment. How can this not affect us? Most of us are also aware that there is an unofficial “Rules of the Road” handbook that establishes polite behavior, which is not followed by many. The perfect storm of impolite driving (unsafe, or self-righteous), and an average person’s bad day can lead to escalations that are unsafe for all parties. Most of us would call this sudden explosion of anger, Road Rage.

While the actions of others remain out of our control, we can be more mindful of our own state as we enter our cars. When a person makes a physical check of possible obstructions prior to pulling out of a space, they are hyper aware. Their eyes search all mirrors for people, dogs, and other cars as if life depended on it, and in many ways this is true. We can also look inward, within ourselves. Creating an awareness of how you are feeling prior to starting the ignition, can be helpful in creating awareness of where you are at.

Road Rage is related to the tipping point of our agitation. What is your frustration tolerance at that particular time, on that particular day? Some people appear to always be at a high frustration level, but for others, irritation can sneak up more slowly. What are the daily obstacles we still have in front of us? Maybe there is a specific meeting, appointment, or a time we have to pick up our kids. It could be the time of day we depart such as rush hour, or a work related task that still lingers on our mind. Are we late? There is an infinite amount of possible stressors, and personal drama or what we might call personal crisis situations (hey it seems like a crisis to us!), but when paired with inconsiderate drivers things can explode.

If we were to rank our personal wellbeing on a scale of 1-10, with one being Buddha, and 10 being Hulk, most likely we all live in a 3 most of the time. It’s once we cross 5 or 6, that we want to become more mindful of Road Rage triggers, and our own body awareness. This is the time we can course correct, prior to further and potentially more dangerous escalation.

Every person has a different anger response. If we begin to track our outbursts, we become more aware of the patterns in our triggers. This is where we can consciously begin to change patterns and replace or alter behaviors. Tracking body symptoms prior to outburst (twitching eye, flushed face, rapid breathing, warm forehead, watery eyes, itchy shoulders or neck, clenching, etc..), can be helpful in establishing patterns, but we need to work on better planning to implement prior to these escalations.

Listening to the radio, taking deep and purposeful breaths, or talking to a good friend or family member can be helpful. Avoiding conflicts while driving is a good rule of thumb as well. When a person is riding at an 8 or 9, it does not take much to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. As our mindfulness and self-awareness increase, it’s easier to make better choices, and do the things we need to do to be safe.

Owning a Car Vs Using Rideshare

It is not a secret that buying, owning, and maintaining a car costs a significant amount of money. Especially now, when gas prices are high and continue to increase. What if you could avoid paying as much as you do right now? Even while still getting to where you need to go?

Many city dwellers can. In fact, many people from Chicago are already dumping their vehicles and becoming reliant on rideshare. Current research has shown that it is in fact cheaper to use services such as Uber and Lyft in cities including Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, among others.

However, some people are hesitant to use these services due to all of the negative news stories reporting violent crimes involving drivers of such services. However, some services such as Uber are introducing safety features to help riders feel more comfortable reaching someone in case of emergency. It also helps hold drivers accountable by creating a stronger sense of authority, of being watched.

There are many benefits to using these rideshare services in bigger cities. In bigger cities drivers tend to have to pay to park their vehicles in addition to other typical costs such as gas, repairs, affordable auto insurance, etc.

On the other hand, some reports say that the cost of using rideshare will not be cheaper than owning a car until 10 years from now. But, it just depends what is best for the individual budget. In fact, news sites have even developed calculators to see if ridesharing is beneficial to your budget. Another detail that the calculator includes is the cost of time. A detail often overlooked by the monetary costs of things, but a detail equally, if not more valuable to people.

Additionally, there are options to “pool” with other rideshare users to eliminate even more costs. This option is not always the best depending on the intentions of your trip, but can be especially helpful for the commute to work, for example.

The increase in regular rideshare users creates another problem, unfortunately. The amount of cars picking up passengers has disrupted the flow of traffic in certain regions of the city, especially in Chicago. They have even increased fines of traffic violations.

The tickets and gas prices also seem to be turning away some drivers as they pay out of pocket for each item, in addition to possible rideshare insurance. But, drivers who discover that there is a growth in the city population using their services may attract attention to drivers hoping to make more money.

This then creates an issue for rideshare companies who are already struggling to pay their workers. Companies such as Uber who are providing benefits to European drivers, the costs will not go down anytime soon for them.

Overall, it may benefit the individual to utilize rideshare instead of owning a personal vehicle. But, there are many factors to take into account before switching over, both personally and the industry in whole. Rideshare is undoubtedly a hot topic at this time and does not appear to be dying down anytime soon.