New Jersey took a different approach than Nevada and Delaware for its regulated online gaming launch. The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) chose to allow all qualifying sites to soft launch at the same time. This involved a testing period where play, payment processing and geolocation methods were closely monitored.
There were a few bugs discovered by players, most of which involved location services. While the players affected by these issues may disagree, declaring the soft launch a success is a safe bet.
New Jersey regulators proved that the process was not just a rubber stamp. The most notable case of this is the absence of PokerStars. Regardless of what may be causing the online poker giant’s licensing issues, it is clear that New Jersey regulators demand compliance before approving the company to operate in the state.
Golden Nugget is another example of a company that has yet to meet full regulatory compliance. The company has operated in Atlantic City for over two years. That did not get it instant approval. Golden Nugget uses the same online poker platform as Betfair, but it still could not pass the testing phase of the process at the same time as its competitors.
New Jersey Regulators Deserves More Credit than Launch and Licensing
The DGE went above and beyond its duties as regulators during the Internet gaming licensing process. The public was invited to comment on regulatory policies involving New Jersey online gaming. The feedback was compiled by the DGE and the responses were released to the public.
It is clear that the DGE listened to all suggestions and concerns. Several policies were changed due to input from the public and potential licensees. While this may happen in other jurisdictions, the transparency was obvious in New Jersey. The DGE wanted to get this right and if they disagreed with an opinion there was a full explanation as to why an existing policy would stand.
Another situation that deserves consideration is DGE Director David Rebuck’s availability for interviews to the poker media. Diamond Flush and Marco Valerio were among members of the media that interviewed Rebuck during the process. This helped players put a face and personality with the licensing process.
New Jersey Situation Different than Delaware and Nevada
New Jersey was the largest online gaming launch in the U.S., but it was not the first. New Jersey and its potential licensees gained experience from watching the process unfold in Delaware and Nevada.
Ultimate Poker and WSOP went through the Nevada licensing process successfully. 888 is the preferred provider in Delaware and launched online poker and casino games to the public in early November. These three sites were live before New Jersey flicked the switch. There is no doubt that the DGE watched these launches closely and listened to those involved in the process to learn what went right and what policies needed to be altered to bring a better experience to players and licensees.
New Jersey was the first state to find itself in the position to take an organized, uniformed online gaming launch. Other states are watching and will discuss this success during the 2014 legislative session. Hopefully, the next states that come to market in the U.S. will mimic what New Jersey did right and will learn from the few issues that surfaced.
Licensees Deserve Recognition
The regulated New Jersey sites that passed the licensing process deserve credit as well. There was a small time window to go from a gaming license application to live action. The people behind the scenes at these sites worked overtime for months to get their companies in compliance with regulations to meet the deadline. The resources spent on this project are more than most people will ever know. The number of zeros at the end of the legal bills alone would probably shock most players.
Congratulations to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, licensees and players on a launch that was an overall success. In due time, the issues involving geolocation and payment processing are certain to be resolved.