New Jersey online gaming entered its fifth day of live beta testing today, known as its “soft play” launch period. After only nine months of preparation, all casinos holding internet gaming permits received their approvals to enter the soft play period, which began on Thursday evening at 6 p.m. Just minutes ago, Division of Gaming Enforcement Director David Rebuck gave the nod for 6 casinos to enter full time real money internet gaming full time. Golden Nugget Casino will remain in soft play beta mode for now.
Customers Not Forewarned About Requirements
Most would agree it was a shaky start with some sites not being ready or just not technically able to open as planned. Eventually the same night most sites put their product to market and thousands of potential customers across the state tried to register.
The sites however, neglected to inform their customers that all would not be the smooth sailing that most of us had experienced when joining online sites pre Black Friday. The biggest nightmare for patrons came immediately upon hitting the register button. People were told thru very vague error messages that their identities couldn’t be verified and a very large number were told they couldn’t be verified as being IN New Jersey, which is a key requirement. This was especially disconcerting to hundreds of potential customers that were trying to register from within the borders of Atlantic City, and in fact, within the casinos themselves. That was the case for me, I tried to register for various sites from within the confines of four different Atlantic City casinos, Borgata, Caesars, Trump Taj and Trump Plaza. In EVERY case, I got the message that I was not found to be in New Jersey. In more than one case, I was told my identity could not be verified. I have had my social security number (necessary to register) for more decades than I care to remember and have been at my present home for many years. And so it began.
What the sites were not telling people was that simple cell phone geolocation techniques, as is used elsewhere, was not the protocol being used in NJ for most sites. There just were too many variables with that option and too many ways that it could be used by people actually out of state. Through word of mouth among the community, we came to know what customer service for the sites was not telling us, namely, that wi-fi geolocation techniques were apparently going to be the first line of verification, with cell phone and IP tracing as backup. Such tracking is said to be the most precise way,potentially within only feet of the actual location (rather than miles) and one that really couldn’t be spoofed from players outside the NJ boundaries. But players sitting in their NJ homes were not even being approved. You had to have wi-fi enabled on your computer, even if using a hard wired connection from your desktop and there had to be at least 3 available wi-fi connections available to triangulate your location. Easier than it sounds since many people had no clue how to enable their wifi if they weren’t using it, and no idea how many connections might be viewable. The next nightmare came when many players received messages that remote desktop applications were found to be running, so they were again being denied. as so many players were confused, since they were running zero VPNs or RDAs, again the error messages were not much help, and customer service reps at most sites had no clue how to help. Once again, info trickled around the community how to help each other out to find and disable the offending programs. (the reason for the ban on these programs is obviously to keep patrons not in the state from spoofing their location). While some people set up VPN’s strictly for the purpose that they are banned for, others have installed them for perfectly legitimate reasons such as work, school or even coaching/training.
Following are some hints to help solve location issues via the wi-fi verification:
Wi fi needs to be enabled on your computer whether you are connected that way or not. If your computer does not offer wi-fi to be enabled, you can purchase a wi-fi usb adaptor to do that for you. At least one operator is offering to mail you one for free.
To enable wi-fi on windows 7/8: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oovbz2rKZ-o
If you are running windows XP, you can enable Wi-Fi as below:
For Windows XP, go the Start Menu > Control Panel > In the top right of the Control Panel open the View dropdown menu > select Category > Network and Internet > Network Connections > Wireless Network Connection > select enable
The following are some pointers to help solve some of the RDA and VPN issues:
Teamviewer, used by many for poker coaching, cannot be temporarily disabled on a p.c. and will always be running in the background.When shutting down the process thru your task manager, it is set to just relaunch itself automatically. To play on that computer, the program must be fully uninstalled.
A few very short tutorials to tame RealVNC and LogMeIn in windows 7&8:
Stopping LogMeIn from running in the background on XP:
Stopping LogMeIn from running in the background on a Mac:
How To Disable GoToMeeting On Windows 7 & 8
How To Stop GoToMeeting Running In The Background On Windows XP
How To Disable Remote Management (ARDagent) On A Mac.
How To Stop TeamViewer Running In The Background On A Mac
Customer Service and Glitches
It’s pretty much universally agreed that customer service at each location needs improvement in a big way. They certainly deserve some slack being new to the issues, but they almost all appear to be totally unprepared for any questions from customers. Lots of erroneous information was given out and more than one site runs their department from outside the country. At least one site runs a department that is staffed by non english speaking personal, so they are dependent on email. All sites have a live chat button, and while some work very well, others are not staffed at all. At least one site told a customer that their servers are not in New Jersey, but they are.
At almost every working site there have been reported issues of disconnects, for example mid-hand in poker games while re-verifying locations. This is a deal breaker for players and can be very costly. Every site needs to fine tune their software to allow for the re-checks of wi-fi positioning etc to be done seamlessly. Hopefully this is being worked on.
Error messages need to be fine tuned to offer the player more details as to any infraction. No one can fix something when they haven’t been told what’s wrong.
Software issues are another potential area for improvement. Sites that want to keep their customers may want to revisit how customer friendly their sites are, especially with regard to poker. It’s hard to support a site that makes it impossible to see what tables are available for play and how many players are taking part.
Live Real Money Gaming is Now Underway!
The original plan was for approved sites to allow soft-play for beta testing for a minimum 5 day period. Most sites have done that. Some have operated only sporadically but still have the requisite 5 days under their belt, enough for final approval by the DGE. Golden Nugget received their approval for soft launch at the 11th hour, but they still have not launched i-poker, and their casino sites remain disabled. Obviously those sites will still be required to undergo their soft-launch period before even being considered for approval.
The DGE gave the nod just at press time, so its full steam ahead for New Jersey online real money gaming!
With all its flaws, the important thing to remember is that this is what New Jersey players have been waiting for. Players in the state want to see it succeed as much as the casinos and the sites do, as much as the regulator and the State of New Jersey do. Most players get that it’s a process and hopefully the sites can step up and work together to bring us the best product possible.