Nevada online poker players are beta testers for the new regulated U.S. market. There were many procedures that needed to be implemented to find out how successful they would be. Geolocation services are among the most important items to regulated online poker. There are numerous gaming regulations that Nevada online poker rooms are required to follow both before and after launch. This includes software, banking and problem gambling compliance.
Lessons Learned from Nevada Online Poker
Several issues have come up during Nevada’s short online poker industry. The biggest problem has been geolocation services. Some players use small or out of state cell phone companies that are not signed up to provide location services. Other players live in low points with poor cell phone signals or live too close to the state line to play due to cell phone triangulation’s margin of error. The number of players affected by these issues has been small in Nevada, but a state like New Jersey with a larger population that border population centers could anger potential players.
One potential solution would be to offer a secondary location service to players that live near state borders. A USB device has been suggested for these players.
New Jersey sites should make sure to contract with all potential providers so that no players get shut out. This was a problem with the launches of both Nevada sites.
Local Support Superior to Outsourcing
Outsourced support has become a major complaint from players. Emails often do not receive replies within a reasonable time frame and are sometimes incorrect.
Ultimate Poker got this part of their business right from the start. Its Nevada support is located in Las Vegas. While that in itself does not guarantee good service, it is apparent the Ultimate Poker support team is well trained and familiar with the company’s operations. Ultimate Poker will also have a local support office in New Jersey.
Quality is not the only reason to offer local support. One of the selling points of regulated online gaming is to create jobs. Outsourcing support jobs to other countries does not accomplish this goal.
Bonus and VIP Terms and Conditions
Bonus offers and VIP programs are another cause for concern. A first deposit bonus should have clear and concise terms. There is no need for a page full of terms and conditions to explain a simple deposit bonus. On the other hand, the terms for a bonus should also be disclosed and easily located. There is no reason a player should have to hunt through a site to find terms that may not even exist. The same goes for VIP programs. The terms should be easy to understand and identifiable.
Promotions have been another issue in Nevada. Some promotions have been introduced that offer players no way to track the progress. This is understandable due to compliance requirements for software updates but support questions like “How many raked hands have I played?” or “How close am I to qualifying for this promotion?” should have a reply in hours, not days.
Contradicting Website Content
Website content was an issue at launch for 888 related sites in Nevada and Delaware. There were pages with conflicting information and vague terms and conditions at launch. The lesson learned here is to proofread websites to make sure that all of the content is accurate and not contradicted on other pages. Publishing accurate content from the beginning can avoid a conflict down the road.
Unfriendly Terms and Conditions
Players should always read the terms and conditions and be aware of “We reserve the right to” clauses in terms and conditions, although there will be far more protection in regulated U.S. states than random offshore sites with little or no regulation. Company lawyers often insist on there being a clause that allows the company to do whatever it wants if a unique situation arises. A reputable company will only result to these types of terms when there is suspected fraud.
Players should read all site rules before playing. Unlike offshore sites, if there is a term that a player feels is unacceptable, they may lobby regulators to put an end to it.
Payment Processing Not an Issue in New Jersey
New Jersey players will not have to worry about a lack of payment processing options. Players will be able to deposit and withdraw at Atlantic City casino cages. It is a requirement under internet gaming regulations.
Casino Bonus Pitfalls
Casino bonuses and promotions have always been a problem in the online gaming industry. Operators create promotions that sometimes allow a situation where players can gain an advantage. This also happens in brick and mortar casinos. It is simply part of the business.
Hopefully New Jersey online casinos can avoid situations where they have to resort to using the term “bonus abuser” or not playing in the “spirit of the bonus” to describe players that adhere to the terms and conditions and manage to win. I hope that a situation like Betfair’s Happy Hour bonus cannot be repeated in the U.S. regulated environment.
There are a lot of lessons to learn from Nevada and the rest of the world. Most of the companies in New Jersey have years of real money gaming experience. Hopefully there can be a perfect balance between the company’s and player’s goals.