New Jersey Regulator Issues Sports Betting Fine to PokerStars
The reason that the New Jersey internet gaming market was established in a strict regulatory environment was to be able to hold licensed operators to the letter of the law. There are room for mistakes, but operators will have to pay the price – usually in the form of a fine for making them.
The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) has been tasked with monitoring online poker, casino game, and sports betting operators to ensure they comply with all regulations.
As it turned out, TSG Interactive US Services was found to have made some mistakes, and after several months of investigations by the DGE, a fine was issued for $10,000.
TSG Interactive, it should be noted, is the company under which PokerStars does business in the New Jersey market.
DGE Versus TSG
The case pitted the State of New Jersey, Department of Law and Public Safety, Division of Gaming Enforcement (petitioner) against TSG Interactive US Services Ltd. D/B/A PokerStars (respondent).
The first actions took place on November 5 and 19, 2018. According to the filing, PokerStars accepted 216 wagers for a total of $2,756.89 on a college basketball game that was listed as a prohibited sporting event for online wagering. The complaint was formally filed on December 28, 2018. And the betting took place on its BetStarsNJ.com.
A second complaint was filed on January 30, 2019 after PokerStars accepted one wager on another prohibited sporting event, another prohibited college basketball game. This happened after the company had been made aware of the violation charged in the first complaint.
PokerStars did void the wagers in question and refunded the patrons before those college games took place. The company also acknowledged that both incidents violated state regulations.
DGE Director David Rebuck wrote in the ruling of April 12, 2019, “Having considered the stipulation of settlement executed by the parties, I find sufficient legal and factual support for the recommended penalty. I hereby order that the $10,000 civil penalty agreed to by the parties in the stipulation of settlement be imposed upon PokerStars.”
PokerStars’ parent company, The Stars Group, blamed the mistakes on a “gating error” that happened from the international server as it made offerings via the New Jersey server.
Most college basketball games are open for sports wagers in New Jersey, but the exceptions are games involving teams playing in New Jersey or affiliated therein. The two games cited in the complaints were on the prohibited list. And all online betting operators were informed of the prohibitions prior to the start of the college basketball season.
Per The Stars Group Strategy and US Operations Senior VP Matt Primeaux, “We generally don’t comment on regulatory matters like these, but we had a manual gating error from our international games into New Jersey. We cooperated with the DGE as we always do, have learnt from the problem, and are confident it won’t reoccur. We’re glad to have a successful NCAA basketball season with our players enjoying our Home of the Underdog campaigns that saw us put out best odds in the market for all underdogs.”
In Defense of PokerStars
Former New Jersey Senator Ray Lesniak told the Press of Atlantic City he disagreed with the rule as it stands, applying only to college games. “If it’s not going to affect the integrity of the pros, it’s not going to affect the college kids.”
Lesniak hopes the issue will eventually make it onto an election ballot for the voters to decide. And he added, “Having betting out in the open where it can be monitored and seen is a lot more effective in discovering unusual betting patterns and thereby preserving the integrity of the game.
Even so, he acknowledged that the regulations are set, and PokerStars did violate them per the DGE.
— Press of AC (@ThePressofAC) April 22, 2019