Welcome to New Jersey

It’s Official: Real Money New Jersey Online Poker Goes Live November 26th

Welcome to New JerseyThanksgiving revelers in the Garden State will have an extra entertainment choice this year, particularly if they enjoy a bit of online gambling.  In statements released to several media outlets today, New Jersey gambling regulators have confirmed that real-money online poker play on sites authorized by the state will commence at 9:00 a.m. ET on November 26th, 2013, the Tuesday before the United States’ Thanksgiving national holiday.

Several forms of online gambling, including online poker, will be available on what is expected to be a roster of competing sites.  The exact lineup of sites has yet to be determined, as each possible online entity, to be offered by Atlantic City’s brick-and-mortar casinos, must first go through a five-day “soft play” version, which will only be available to pre-invited / pre-registered players.

As many as nine of Atlantic City’s 12 casinos may be ready to launch online sites by November, according to this USA Today report.  Four of the nine are Caesars Entertainment properties, including Caesars Atlantic City, Bally’s Atlantic City, Harrah’s Resorts Atlantic City and the Showboat Casino Hotel — all powered by 888 Holdings software.

The other five are the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa (bwin.party for software), Resorts Casino Hotel (PokerStars / Rational US), Taj Mahal Casino Resort (Ultimate Gaming),  Trump Plaza (probably with Betfair), and Golden Nugget Atlantic City (Bally Technologies).

New Jersey officials are also reserving the right to continue that soft-play period beyond November 26th, but barring unusual and unforeseen circumstances, it’s expected that real action will begin that morning.  Action will be limited to punters age 21 and over, and will be available to both New Jersey residents and visitors to the state.  All players must be physically within New Jersey’s borders while playing.

New Jersey gambling regulators have also released a final version of the state’s online gambling codes, following an open-comment process lasting a couple of months that we reported on this summer.  The lengthy 106-page final draft of New Jersey’s online gambling regulations is now available online, and is scheduled to go into effect October 21st.

That document is split roughly in half between comments made during the early open period, and New Jersey’s responses to them, and the draft regulations themselves.  A handful of extra regulations not yet receiving final approval is expected to be amended to the codes one week later, on October 28th.

Among the issues brought up by prospective applicants includes the possibility of player-to-player transfers, which was brought up by PokerStars and is known to increase player liquidity.  However, that concept was quickly nixed by New Jersey gaming officials citing fraud and money-laundering concerns, just as it was when raised by other gambling entities in the Nevada and Delaware markets.

Another change to the draft regulations, proposed by Martin “PokerXanadu” Shapiro and others, concerns the prior bad history of online sites that had guaranteed to hold player balances in segregated accounts, and then had failed to do so.  In response, New Jersey has modified its licensing requirements, making each online site open a segregated account at a New Jersey bank, which is held apart from other operating accounts and which must contain a balance equal to or greater than the aggregate amount held in player balances on the site.

Shapiro, a Florida lawyer and poker player, former PPA state director (Florida) and a knowledgeable consumer regarding online gambling’s occasionally troubled history, also asked for clarification regarding New Jersey’s stated requirement that game-play logs be held for only 90 days.  In response, New Jersey regulators clarified that game-history logs must be retained for fully ten years; the 90-day limit applies only to the technical aspects of gameplay history.

New Jersey appears to close with a rush on the small lead that Nevada has established in regulated US online gambling to date.  With roughly seven weeks to wait, prospective Jersey gamblers can expect a rush of promotion from the majority of the state’s casinos, urging them to give the new online services a try.


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