Resorts Casino to Launch New Jersey Online Gambling Site
Resorts Casino Hotel, one of just eight casinos still open in Atlantic City, announced Wednesday that it has been granted at transactional waiver by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) and is now therefore permitted to offer online gambling to residents of New Jersey. Resorts has partnered with Sportech NYX Gaming LLC, which will provide the software platform for the games. The duo is aiming to launch real money games on its site, ResortsCasino.com, this month.
The transactional waiver essentially allows Resorts to operate its online gambling site for a short, one-week probational period while the systems are tested. Things like payment processing, player verification, and geolocation services need to be functioning smoothly in order for Resorts to get the full go-ahead, but assuming there are no hiccups and the DGE likes what it sees, the transition to a full-fledged license should be rather seamless. It is not as if these aspects of online gaming operations have been perfect in the New Jersey market, though. Regulated online gambling is only a little more than a year old in the Garden State, and particularly during the early stages, geolocation was not always reliable; many potential players who were located within New Jersey borders were unable to play because geolocation services placed them outside of the state. In the one-year anniversary summary, though, DGE Director David Rebuck said that players are now properly placed in New Jersey 98 percent of the time.
Payment processing has also been an issue. Though credit card companies can legally process online gambling transactions in the state, the yearly summary said that only 73 percent of VISA transactions went through during the first year and only 44 percent of Mastercard transactions were approved. A new code for gambling transactions is expected to go live this spring, so credit card deposits should be easier this year.
In a press release, Mark Giannantonio, President and CEO of Resorts Casino Hotel, said, “As New Jersey’s first casino destination, Resorts is committed to delivering the best-in-class online gaming experience in the Garden State by partnering with gaming leaders, including SNG Interactive, which houses Sportech and NYX Gaming Group. With SNG’s flexible gaming solutions and exclusive game content, we’re excited to introduce Europe’s industry-leading casino slots and table games to the United States market for the best online user experience.”
ResortsCasino.com will only spread casino games such as craps, blackjack, and slots, not online poker. If and when Resorts does launch an online poker room, it will be a very big deal, as it partnered with PokerStars back in the summer of 2013. PokerStars is the name everyone in the poker world is waiting on, eager to see if some state finally lets the world’s online poker leader into the United States gaming market. It had originally tried to get into New Jersey by purchasing the failing Atlantic Club casino in late 2012 (online gambling providers must pair with a brick-and-mortar casino in New Jersey), but that deal fell through.
In December 2013, months after the partnership with Resorts was announced, the DGE put a pin in PokerStars’ licensing application, suspending it for two years. The DGE’s reasoning was “.…based primarily on the unresolved federal indictment against Isai Scheinberg for the alleged violation of federal gambling statutes… and the involvement of certain PokerStars executives with Internet gaming operations in the United State following the enactment of UIGEA.”
Once Amaya Gaming bought PokerStars last summer, those concerns were gone, as the executives of note were no longer in the picture. Thus, the DGE began considering PokerStars’ application again. Amaya (and PokerStars’ parent, Rational) and Resorts filed for the transactional waiver that was mentioned earlier in early October 2014 and it looked like PokerStars was finally going to launch in New Jersey that month, but things were delayed.
It now appears that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie may be the one blocking PokerStars’ entry into the state. New Jersey State Senator Raymond Lesniak, a strong online gambling supporter, told Business Insider recently that Christie is kowtowing to billionaire Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson, blocking PokerStars’ license in order to curry favor with the deep-pocketed Republican political donor. Christie is one of the headline acts of the GOP and may have his eyes set on a presidential run in 2016. As such, he feels he needs Adelson’s financial support, even though they disagree on many issues.
In the Business Insider piece, Lesniak said, “Christie put a stop to it. With a high degree of confidence it’s apparent that’s exactly what has happened.”
It would not be surprising in the least if this were true, as Chris Christie is known as a politician’s politician, someone who will take whatever stance is necessary to advance his political career.