David Rebuck: Internet gaming helped to protect New Jersey industry

David L Rebuck, Director of the NJ Department of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE), has stated New Jersey embraced internet gaming in 2013 in the face of its potential problems because it helped to protect the state’s gaming industry.

In conversation with Martin Lycka during a live edition of Lycka’s Safe Bet Show at the Player Protection Symposium session at SBC Summit North America, Rebuck delved into the history of gaming in the Garden State, remarking how it thrived in its early years since there was no competition, and why it was so ready to launch internet gaming.

Rebuck commented: “I think you have to go back in time in the state of New Jersey. Initially, casino gaming in the state of New Jersey was a boom and so successful, but there was no competition.

“With this success of casino gambling in the United States, in Nevada, as well as in New Jersey, and in other states that copied it, all of a sudden, you have this massive explosion of casino gambling, legalized gambling in the United States.

“That being said, now you have a lot of competition, a lot of saturation, a lot of choices for consumers, and the industry was struggling with the changes to compete.”

The NJDGE Director described three problems the Garden State was facing that ultimately lead to the market taking the plunge into internet gaming, firstly highlighting the pressure its land-based operations were facing in regulation. The industry felt restricted in the areas of innovation, expansion, and in doing things that needed to be done in order to compete with neighboring states.

Rebuck also stated that New Jersey understood the need to diversify its offerings and be different from what was being delivered in neighboring states. The diversity of that product comes through the online gaming controlled by the casino industry, giving the player more choice, whether that offering is sports betting or casino products. 

The final point was that the Garden State’s operators needed to show their commitment to investing in their property, invest in their employees, and invest in their customers through this new type of offering.

The risk of internet gaming was there, as Rebuck noted the main concerns came from people who simply didn’t know how it would be regulated, alongside the fear of change, the fear of failure, fear of fraud, and that the under-age population could be reached.

Although internet gaming is still very much in its infancy stages, it has been introduced in New Jersey. The NJDGE Director made it clear that the Garden State had to take the risk with internet gaming as a lot of jobs were on the line, and some had sadly already gone.

He said: “The risk was, in our sustainable gaming industry, Atlantic City is going to collapse. If it collapsed, the economic development, the jobs, and the opportunities that were supporting South Jersey would be very detrimental. It happened a little bit, as this growth went on with the internet and sports because we closed four casinos, we closed four of the 11 casinos there.

“I will assure you that, being the leader overseeing that, that was a very depressing day. Thousands of people are out of jobs and have no idea what they’re going to do with the rest of their life. So gaming, with the expansion and the changes that were made, was done to prevent that from expanding beyond what it did. 

“Today, I feel very strongly that we’re in a very good position in South Jersey, and in the state for the gaming industry living up to its part of what it has to do for economic development, steady jobs, and being an entertainment industry.”

During the rest of the Safe Bet Show, Rebuck also spoke more to Lycka about New Jersey’s gaming history, his background in the industry, KYC, PASPA, and the industry’s relationship with sports leagues and teams. 

The full episode of Martin Lycka’s Safe Bet Show with David Rebuck is now available on SBC’s YouTube Channel. Click here to subscribe to the channel.