Caesars Fined by NJ DGE for Violating Self-Exclusion Regulations
For the second time in about six months, Caesars Interactive Entertainment has been slapped with a penalty by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) for violating internet gaming self-exclusion regulations.
In the Actions of the Director publication for the period June 1st, 2015 through June 15th, 2015, one of the items highlighted pertained to a settlement stipulation in which Caesars was fined $15,000 for the rules violations. Linked from the bullet point was the actual legal order which laid out the findings and punishment, signed by DGE Director David Rebuck.
The document states that Caesars – presumably via WSOP.com, though the document does not specify – permitted players who had previously self-excluded themselves from playing online in New Jersey to create gambling accounts, allowed five to actually play, and sent promotional materials to over 200 self-excluded people.
The entire text of the order is below:
The Division filed a complaint on April 30, 2015, Docket No. 15-0154-VC, seeking sanctions against CAESARS INTERACTIVE ENTERTAINMENT NEW JERSEY, LLC, (“CIENJ”) for reasons set forth therein and, more specifically that CIENJ a) allowed self-excluded persons to create Internet gaming accounts; b) sent promotional materials to 231 self-excluded persons; and, c) permitted 5 self-excluded persons to engage in Internet wagering; and
Having considered the relevant provisions of the Casino Control Act, N.J.S.A. 5:12-1 et seq., and the regulations promulgated thereunder, specifically, N.J.A.C. 13:69G-2.4(a) and (b); and
Having considered the Stipulation of Settlement which the parties executed and finding sufficient legal and factual support for the recommended penalty therein.
I hereby ORDER that the settlement be adopted and that a civil penalty in the amount of $15,000 be imposed upon CIENJ, payable upon receipt of an invoice from the Division.
On WSOP.com, the poker room explains that players can request to be self-excluded from playing for real money for a period of one year, five years, or permanently. The former two options can be done online, whereas the latter must be made in person at a location approved by the DGE.
“Once a player self-excludes, we will block his account,” WSOP.com explains. “Any new accounts he attempts to open during the period of his self-exclusion will also be blocked as soon as they are detected. In addition, we will take all reasonable measures to make sure the player does not receive any promotional material during this time.”
WSOP.com that the self-exclusion extends to all Caesars gaming facilities, including brick-and-mortar locations. Additionally, the self-exclusion request also allows the state of New Jersey to ban the player from all gaming activities during the self-exclusion period.
Caesars says that it found out about the violation itself and reported it to the DGE. Caesars Interactive’s Vice President of Corporate Communications Seth Palansky told The Press of Atlantic City, “We self-reported this error to the DGE after we were notified by our third-party provider a lapse in procedure occurred. We regret the error, and apologize to those affected by it. We accept the punishment and will work more diligently to avoid a repeat mistake.”
This is not the first time Caesars has run afoul of these same New Jersey internet gambling regulations. In November 2014, it was revealed that the company sent promotional e-mails to more than 250 self-excluded players between February 16th, 2014 and May 28th, 2014.
At the time, Palansky said it was a computer issue that caused the problem. “The issue that caused our system to inadvertently target these patrons has been fixed and we have had no incidents since,” he explained. “We can assure the public that this lapse on our part was not an intentional targeting of these patrons, but simply a back-end software issue that failed to properly scrub our database before certain mailings.”
Caesars was fined $10,000 for that violation.
Of course, opponents of online gambling will look at this and say, “HEY! SEE! The regulations don’t work! Self-excluded players can still slip through the cracks! Imagine how many children are playing online!”
The thing is, though, the regulations ARE working. The regulations allow players to self-exclude in the first place. The regulations resulted in Caesars reporting its own violations when they were detected. The regulations allowed for punishments and hopefully greater diligence by Caesars to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Besides, if we are to give the company the benefit of the doubt and assume it is telling the truth, it does not appear that Caesars was purposely targeting self-excluded players in either instance. They were simply mistakes. The mistakes were caught and fixed. These are the only two instances of violations that have come up in the year and a half (or thereabouts) that online gambling has been legal in New Jersey and considering that, in the grand scheme of things, they weren’t all that serious, the regulations do seem to be working.