Exactly One Month Remains Until Regulated New Jersey iGaming Launch
With exactly one month remaining before the launch of real money online wagering in New Jersey, it seems that the media and industry pundits are possibly more excited about the upcoming start date than are bettors from the Garden State.
New Jersey became the third state in the U.S. to pass a law green-lighting Internet-based wagering behind Nevada and Delaware when it did so last February.
It will, however, be the second state to see its nascent online betting market go live. Nevada – where only online poker is permitted – launched its first real money online poker room, Ultimate Poker, last April. The second, the World Series of Poker-branded web site WSOP.com, followed suit in September.
In Delaware, which like New Jersey will allow online casino games and other forms of Internet betting in addition to real money online poker, an official go date has not been announced, but games are expected to be accessible there before the year is out.
Five casinos have received permits from state regulators
The terms of New Jersey online gambling law dictate that the industry be connected to land-based casinos in Atlantic City, a mandate that has resulted in the announcement of a slew of partnership deals between brick and mortar New Jersey casinos and online operators, a good number of them offshore gaming companies.
Those operators must be licensed separately from the land-based casino with which they’ve entered into agreements, and so far we have not seen any such permits issued by New Jersey gambling regulators. Five casinos have been approved; the Borgata, the Golden Nugget, the Trump Taj Mahal, the Trump Plaza, and the Tropicana have all been cleared to begin offering games to New Jersey residents when the marketplace commences on November 26 at 9 in the morning.
It should be noted that despite the shared name, Trump Plaza and the Trump Taj Mahal are managed separately and therefore have entered into distinct partnership deals. The Taj Mahal has teamed up with Ultimate Gaming, parent company of Nevada online poker room Ultimate Poker, while the Plaza has entered into an iGaming agreement with international gaming company Betfair.
The Tropicana is the most recent addition to the list of approved casinos, having only received word of its licensing this week.
Seven Atlantic City casino properties remain unlicensed
Of the twelve land-based casinos in New Jersey’s gambling mecca of Atlantic City, more than half have yet to receive approval from state regulators. Two properties in the city – incidentally two of the most financially struggling – have not publicized partnership deals or expressed plans to enter the state’s iGaming industry.
Revel, which emerged from bankruptcy last Spring and has undertaken an somewhat aggressive re-branding from a luxury property to one that is meant to cater to the more traditional Atlantic City tourist, to date remains without a partnership deal in place.
So too does the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel, which made headlines earlier this year after backing out of a deal with the parent company of online poker giant PokerStars, Isle of Man-based the Rational Group, that would have seen PokerStars taking over the ailing locals casino. A judge went on to uphold the Atlantic Club’s right to terminate the deal, even permitting the casino to keep $11 million that it had received from PokerStars toward a total $15 million purchase price.
That defeat did not prevent PokerStars from finding another way into the New Jersey market, as the company soon made it known that it had instead paired up with Resorts, the oldest casino property in Atlantic City.
The fact that PokerStars has yet to be awarded an operating permit by New Jersey officials has been much fodder for discussion, as there remains a debate in the industry with regard to so-called “bad actors” who continued to operate U.S.-facing real money online poker after the 2006 passage of the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act. While some believe that PokerStars is well-qualified to operate in the regulated marketplace, there are others who believe that any company that offered real money games to U.S. players post-UIGEA ought to be barred.