- Associated Press - Sunday, April 13, 2014

Three of the five municipalities where people are spending the most time logged on to some Internet gambling websites are within an hour’s drive of Atlantic City, but operators say these gamblers are not the same clientele who frequent the resort’s casinos.

As Internet gambling continues in New Jersey, operators are trying to learn more about where their gamblers are coming from and what can be done to access untapped markets.

Caesars Interactive Entertainment, which has captured a 31 percent of the state’s online gambling market since its November launch, is seeing more log-in time from Toms River, Ocean County, than anywhere else in the state, according to a list released by the company.

Cherry Hill, Camden County, and Brick, Ocean County - both within an hour’s drive of Atlantic City - come in third and fifth respectively. Jersey City and Hoboken, both in Hudson County, come in second and fourth. The rankings from take into account play from Nov. 21 through Feb. 28 at HarrahsCasino.com, CaesarsCasino.com and WSOP.com, all of which are licensed under Caesars Interactive.

Seth Palansky, a spokesman for Caesars Interactive, told The Press of Atlantic City (https://bit.ly/1if6Lrr) the data will allow the company to better position marketing efforts in the future. For now, he said, the company is having difficulty finding any correlation between the cities most popular for online gambling and the company’s own marketing efforts.

“What’s interesting is there was no extra attention paid to any of these markets,” Palansky said. “This is only our first 100 days in the market. We really need year over year to get reliable enough data to take advantage of this more.

Caesars Interactive ranked more than 450 cities by time people spent logged in on the websites. The company, however, declined to say how much time was spent at each location. Palansky said the top 10 municipalities were significantly differentiated from the rest of the list.

Egg Harbor Township ranked 25th; Atlantic City ranked 27th and Galloway Township 32nd.

Still, Palansky said, the company does not believe gamblers logging on to the sites are staying home rather traveling to Atlantic City.

“We’re finding very similar patterns as other companies. The people online are people that haven’t visited us in a while or are new players all together,” Palansky said. “We’re not seeing cannibalization.”

Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, which leads the online gambling industry with 42 percent market share to date, has found that 85 percent of its online players have not had rated play at the casino in two years.

Borgata declined to release any similar rankings of popular log in locations for its online gamblers. Borgata Senior Vice President Joe Lupo, however, suggested that any such data at this point may only reflect familiarity with online gambling based on proximity to casinos rather than ongoing trends. In other cases, people just be logging on out of curiosity, he said.

A poll conducted by the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality and Tourism at Richard Stockton College this year showed that 2.5 percent of New Jersey gamblers have gone online to gamble since the practice became legal in November. Seven percent said they intend to gamble online in the coming year.

“It’s very early in the game and the numbers are so small, so breakdowns by municipality might not mean very much yet,” said Israel Posner, the institute’s executive director. “It will be an interesting story when you’re able to tell with any certainty where the strongest populations are.”

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