Online gambling has been legal in New Jersey for well over two years, since November of 2013. In that time, the industry can boast of a nearly unblemished record when it comes to consumer protections, as fears of underage gambling and access by problem gamblers has proven to be a bogeyman. The lone warts on the resumes of licensed online gambling websites are several fines for sending promotional advertising to New Jersey residents on the state’s self-exclusion rolls.
Fines, fines, everywhere there’s fines
In November of 2014, the New Jersey Division of Gaming hit Caesars Interactive with a $10,000 fine for sending marketing materials to some 250 self-excluded New Jersey residents. In June of 2015 Caesars Interactive was slapped with a $15,000 fine from the DGE for a similar violation.
In an unrelated matter, bwin.party was fined $10,000 in October of 2015 for failing to meet a divesture agreement the company signed with the NJDGE back in 2013.
Otherwise, there have been:
- Zero documented cases of underage gambling at any licensed New Jersey online gambling site.
- Zero documented instances of a self-excluded player gaining access to a licensed online gaming site in New Jersey.
- Zero documented cases of players outside New Jersey gaining access to one of the state’s licensed online gaming sites.
The same cannot be said for brick & mortar casinos in New Jersey.
Over the same period of time, the state’s brick & mortar casinos have been fined by the NJ DGE for the following offenses:
- Underage gambling and underage drinking – here, here, and here
- Self-excluded gambling – here and here
The above mentioned fines are just a snippet of the fines the DGE has handed out over this time period.
Sands casinos not immune to breaches
But these New Jersey casinos are not Sheldon Adelson-controlled properties, and surely the man who said the following would do a much better job of preventing these types of transgressions from occurring:
“The possibility of underage children finding ways to place online wagers and the possibility of people betting under the influence of drugs or being coerced are all scenarios that can happen when the person is only monitored by their own computer screen.
On the other hand, when a person makes an effort to get dressed, join some friends and head to the local casino for a night of entertainment, they must show themselves as adults, and their behavior can be observed and ultimately managed by security and other staff if needed.”
Or would he?
The fines levied against the Adelson-owned Sands Bethlehem Casino in neighboring Pennsylvania show similar breakdowns in preventing underage gambling and drinking as we see in New Jersey:
- Sands Bethlehem paid $48,000 in fines for six separate instances from June 2009 through January 2010.
- Sands Bethlehem was fined for over a dozen instances of underage gambling in 2010 and 2011.
- Sands paid $68,000 in fines for six similar underage gambling offenses in 2012.
- Sands fines for underage gambling (four incidents) in 2013 tallied $56,000.
- In 2014 Sands paid $85,000 in fines for six instances of underage gambling.
- The PGCB did not fine Sands in 2015.
However, despite a blemish-free 2015, 2016 has already seen Pennsylvania regulators hit Sands with $36,000 in fines for three instances of underage gambling. To be fair, Sands isn’t the only casino in Pennsylvania to incur fines from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board; it’s an industry-wide problem.
Online safeguards are far from foolproof
This isn’t to say online gambling sites are impregnable; nothing is. But it’s safe to say that online gaming accounts are better secured against underage misappropriation than many other online accounts. iGaming is better protected than a parent’s Amazon or eBay account, or a parent’s credit card or bank login details, since most people save the log-in details for these sites on their computers.
Licensed online gaming sites don’t allow users to save log-in details, so they must be entered every time, and there are also additional safeguards in place to verify a user’s identity, particularly during the registration process where players must divulge their Social Security numbers, as well as looking into a number of other things, such as log-ins from an unregistered (or new) device.
Bottom line: Where there’s a will there’s a way, assuming the person has the resources to do so, but the current consumer protections in place at licensed online gaming sites are as foolproof as humanly possible, and appear to be far more foolproof than the current safeguards used at brick & mortar casinos.