Want to Save Some Money? Play Some Free Browser Games!

With many console games costing hundreds of dollars and game titles usually starting out at 40-80 dollars, a good alternative is to play any of the thousands of free online games. You can forgo the need to purchase a brand new HDTV and the latest audio equipment and simply use any modern computer with internet access to entertain yourself for hours.

Finding Good Quality Games

Often the best way to find the most entertaining games is word of mouth and often Google searches yield excellent search results. I find the best quality games are often found on games portals as they pre-screen their games for variety, quality and hold them to high standards.

Another option is bloggers that are often quite passionate about the newest and most entertaining games available so they are often a very useful resource when searching for new games to try out. There are thousands of these blogs available that are updated daily so I would recommend searching out one that appeals to you.

Game Portals

Online game portals have achieved broad success as a result of increased broadband connections among consumers but even dial-up modems are able to play many of these games due to the small file size of them. The increase of internet access speed also means that game developers are able to create higher quality games with better graphics and game play. Fans of all genre, type and flavor of game will be able to quickly find some entertaining ways to spend their time.

An example of an immensely popular browser-based game portal would be Miniclip which has upwards of 43 million unique visitors on their website per month. These larger portals often feature localization in multiple languages such as English, Korean, Italian, Chinese, Spanish, Polish, Portuguese and French.

Other very large and successful Game Portal sites would include Yahoo Games, Kongregate, Newgrounds and Armor Games. Millions of users every month visit these websites playing a variety of games ranging from chess to zombie games.

Variety is one of the most compelling features of these free portals so you will often find categories such as Action, Adventure, Girls, MMO, Racing and Multiplayer games. As well you can find entire game portals devoted solely to one type of category such as Racing Games or Dressup games for example.

Game Formats

The most popular format used for these games would be Adobe Flash Player. This format has become very well distributed across the desktop market resulting in market dominance. Adobe makes the claim that 98% of US web users have their software player installed. Also one of the best aspects of Flash is it is not specific to PC or Mac, but usable by both types of personal computer.

Other types of formats online browser games can include Html, Java, Shockwave, Unity and the newer Microsoft Silverlight format. Most new computers do not come pre-installed with the above game players so when you attempt to play a game without the appropriate software, it will often auto install the software for you.

Popularity

Numerous studies from research groups such as Deloitte & Touche have released reports detailing the surging popularity of online games. A five fold growth prediction was touted recently in one of their white papers. Developing nations such as China, India and Latin America are poised to introduce millions more of gamers which will drive the demand for even more games and games portals.

Summary

Browser games only require an internet connection and a web browser so why not give them a try, its one of the fastest growing game markets. They are fun, unique, often innovative and the best part they are all available at no cost at all.

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.