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.

Top Financial Tips for Millennials

Are you a millennial who feels overwhelmed trying to manage your finances? Are you getting the most out of your money? Financial literacy is not often taught in schools and they don’t do a great job preparing their graduates to manage their finances. So when you’re out of college and start real life, it can be a little overwhelming and it is easy to get yourselves into debt and other financial trouble.

Most millennials are currently in their 20s and 30s – a time when many young people are ready to make major financial decisions in their lives, like home ownership, long-term investment activity, etc. If you’re currently a part of this generation here’s your crash course on what you should do to improve your financial wellness:

Take online financial courses
Since most young adults have the propensity for technology it is suggested you take a few basic online courses in economics, accounting, and any other financial topics that may be of interest to you.

Embrace Technology
When it comes down to managing your money there is probably an app. To help you do that. These apps. Can categorize your spending habits and help you manage your spending. These insights can help you save money each month and then transfer that money directly to your savings. Online financial apps can help you make a workable budget for your lifestyle and ultimately change your net worth.

When it comes down to managing your money there is probably an app to help you do that. Mobile apps like Clarity Money can help you track any wasteful spending habits. Digit and Stash can recommend where you can save money each month and then transfer that money directly to your savings. Online financial apps can help you make a workable budget for your lifestyle and ultimately change your net worth.

Examine Your Current Bank Accounts
Are you paying fees? If so, for what? Monthly maintenance and minimum balance fees should never be a fee on your account statement. Free checking accounts, are available, especially at credit unions and these accounts will help you keep more of your own money in your pockets. So don’t settle for anything else.

Build Your Credit and Understand the Impact of your Credit Score
Early on, you may only have a student loan or a credit card on your credit report. But now it’s time to start building your credit. Ask your credit union about a Credit Builder Loan to help jumpstart your credit. And if you already have some active loans, make sure you’re making payments on time every month. You’ll need that good credit history when you want to make big purchases in the future like a car, rent an apartment, or get a mortgage for your first home.

It’s also important to know that if you are planning on opening up a business your personal credit may be the defining factor in your ability to access necessary working capital.

Repay Debt Tactically
Since we are on the topic of credit, a lot of young adults have credit cards with very high interest rates. Focus on paying off those debts first! If possible, transfer those balances to a lower-rate credit card. It’s much easier to pay down debt when more is going toward the balance.

Track everything to obtain your whole financial picture
Just as businesses manage their cash flow, individuals need to do the same by tracking their income, expenses, assets and liabilities. There are many online tools to help you like Mint, Quicken and Personal Capital.

Build an Emergency Fund
Unplanned/unfair/unfortunate events can happen in the blink of an eye. You may get in a car accident, have unforeseen medical expenses or lose your job. That’s why it’s important for everyone to have an emergency fund. The best way is to set up an automatic savings plan where you pay yourself first by depositing a portion of your paycheck into a separate savings account. If you forget it’s there you won’t be tempted to spend it.

Create a Long-Term Savings Strategy
An emergency fund is a short-term strategy, but you also can’t forget the big picture. Does your employer offer a matching 401(k)? If so, be sure to take advantage of that opportunity. It’s fundamentally free money, and it’s an investment in your future.

Get yourself a financial mentor
Even though there is an overabundance of information and apps on the Internet to help with your financial security, it is far superior to pick the brain and bounce questions off a trusted friend or colleague. Their pertinent insights will most likely be tailored to your specific requirements.

Use these financial tips listed above to get your finances on track while you’re still young. You’ve got a bright future ahead – so start now and stick with it. Your financial well-being will thank you! Although these tips are targeted at millennials, they’re useful for all ages.

Tips and Tricks for Saving on Auto Insurance

Finding the best auto insurance rates can sometimes be tricky. It is absolutely necessary to be insured on the roads, though. In fact, it is required, by Illinois state law to have coverage. Some find auto insurance to be extremely expensive but, there are ways to help make it more affordable. Here are some things to consider to find the ideal price of insurance.

Shop Around

Get quotes from multiple insurance companies, including different types of companies. Also, realize that the lowest number does not mean the cheapest.

Consider Insurance While Shopping for Cars

Some vehicles have lower reliability ratings and other factors that contribute to higher premiums. While researching cars it is important to compare potential premiums for each of your options to ensure you are getting the best deal.

Increase Deductible

By increasing your deductible, you can decrease your premium. Just be sure that the deductible is manageable for your budget and that you have enough money saved in case you need to file a claim.

Bundle Insurance

If the insurance agency that you choose offers bundling, take advantage of it. If not, try to stay with the same company for all of your insurance needs. This results in discounts in most cases.

Keep Good Credit

Having good credit helps lower insurance rates. Researchers have found a significant relationship between your credit score and amount of claims filed. Insurance companies tend to rely on this correlation to define your financial responsibility.

Low Mileage Discounts

Research mileage averages and see if you fall below that. Do not be afraid to ask about a low mileage discount. This discount could also apply to you if you are someone who carpools.

Group Insurance

Some people fall into the category of people who receive insurance from their employer or other groups they belong to. Some insurance providers offer discounts on auto insurance to people who fall into this category.

Other Discounts

Ask your agent if there are any additional discounts you are qualified for based on certain qualities such as how you drive, etc.

Purchase 10+ days before you actually need it

By purchasing coverage before you need to use it helps drive down premium costs.

Pay in Full Up Front

If possible pay in full, rather than setting up a payment plan. The amount you save annually will add up.

Get New Policy When You Move

Especially out of state! Some states have significantly higher insurance rates than others.

Older Cars

Buying a brand new car, just released is exciting, but if your priority is lower insurance premiums it is better to purchase models that are 5+ years old. They are considered more reliable.

VIN Number for Quotes

The purpose of this is to see if you are eligible for a discount if you have anti-theft devices.

Go Paperless

Some companies value using less paper and offer a small discount to those who opt out of using paper which is not hard to do in this age if technology. It is a small offering, but it adds up.

Insurance Vocabulary

Be sure to understand what the verbiage means so that you have a good idea of what you actually need covered and what questions you need to ask your agent.

Automatic Billing

This is another way to save over time, similar to going paperless.

Education

Some insurers offer discounts based off of the level of education you have. For example, some offer discounts for college graduates.

Teen Drivers

Teen drivers are known to drive up insurance costs, since they are more accident prone. But, if they are in a college that is 100+ miles away without a car some insurers allow them to be temporarily taken off of the plan. Additionally, most companies offer a “good student” discount implying that they correlate this test of intelligence with responsible driving habits. Proof of a safe driving class can also save some money on teen auto insurance.