New Jersey Online Poker: Borgata Receives First License
The Borgata, which already boasts New Jersey’s largest poker room (85 tables) and is one of the largest gambling venues on the East Coast, will be part of the state’s pre-Thanksgiving rollout of online-gaming sites. A five-day “soft launch” of play-money games will commence on or about November 21st, before real-money action starts up on November 26th. Poker is one of only several games that will be offered, with all of the casino’s live gaming offerings, including slots and table games, eligible to be offered in online versions.
Wednesday’s announcement had been rumored for several days, with Borgata execs David Rebuck and Tom Ballance preparing a modest press blast, including posing with the official state license certificate in photos distributed to local media outlets. The Borgata, which is a joint venture between MGM Resorts International and Boyd Gaming, also issued a brief press release acknowledging the receipt of the historic license.
According to Ballance, the Borgata’s President and Chief Operating Officer, “We are honored to receive New Jersey’s first Internet Gaming Permit. Borgata and bwin.party are aggressively pursuing our objective of being among the first to launch online gaming in the state.”
“We have worked closely throughout this process with the Division of Gaming Enforcement,” continued Ballance,” and we wish to thank Director Rebuck for his leadership, and the Division staff for their hard work on this important new product offering. We believe online gaming is an exciting growth opportunity for New Jersey’s gaming industry, one that will generate significant benefits for the state as New Jersey assumes a leadership role in this emerging form of gaming entertainment.”
As noted in the release, bwin.party has been scheduled to be the software provider for the Borgata’s online-gambling offerings, the exact online domains and brand names of which have yet to be announced. Despite inferences in local reports that bwin.party’s approval is a done deal, industry reports suggest bwin.party still awaits similar approval. That approval would come despite that firm’s own cloudy previous history with US authorities, including a massive $105 million settlement paid by PartyGaming to the Department of Justice in April of 2009 for its pre-UIGEA activities.
Bwin, which acquired the similar US-facing Ongame Network, never reached a like settlement with US authorities, although possible settlement talks have been rumored for years while the company denies official responsibility for earlier Ongame activity. Bwin.party itself came about when the two major UK companies (now located in Gibraltar) merged in 2011.
The Borgata has been among the East Coast leaders in technological advancements, earlier this year becoming the first Jersey casino to institute in-room, on-property gambling via remote electronic hookups. That technology will likely be wedded to the casino’s upcoming online offerings — likely to branded in some way to both the Borgata and bwin.party — making sure that gamblers in the state, and especially on-property, always have a gambling opportunity at hand.
The Borgata’s announcement will likely be the first of several similar reports rushing into the headlines over the next few weeks, with eight of the state’s 11 other casinos already having lined up software partners and awaiting similar tentative approval from New Jersey regulators.