David Rebuck is out to clean the streets of Gotham.
With legalized sports betting in New Jersey in full swing, Rebuck, director of the NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement, is determined to support commercial sports betting operators by ridding the industry of illegal bookmakers.
“If I find out that you are actively engaged in doing illegal gambling in the United States,” Rebuck told GamblingCompliance recently, “you’re barred.”
Cracking down on the black market
Long has offshore sports betting accepted wagers from bettors. Illegal sportbook site Bovada, which is based in Latvia, is a well-known reference tool used by media.
In 2017, Eilers & Krejcik Gaming estimated that $2.5 billion to $3 billion was being earned by offshore books from illegal wagers placed by US bettors last year, according to a story published in Forbes.
Of course, that was a time when sports betting outside of Nevada was illegal.
Now, though, a few months after the US Supreme Court struck down the PASPA, states across the country have either launched regulated wagering or are in the process of introducing legislation and/or regulatory frameworks.
And in New Jersey, which rolled out legalized sports betting in June, Rebuck is ready to clear the waters of illegal bookmakers.
‘Not going to be easy’
Rebuck estimated that at least 10,000 websites exist that are accepting illegal wagers.
At last month’s East Coast Gaming Congress, the DGE director said there was evidence that the Garden State’s regulated gaming operations are “cannibalizing the illegal online gaming market” and that online NJ sports betting will follow the same pattern.
“It’s not going to be easy, but you can never let (illegal sports betting websites) just get a pass,” Rebuck told GamblingCompliance. “In the future, I see that being a major initiative for the regulated markets to work to figure out the best ways to go after people.”
Rebuck is adamant about this quest. And he is not afraid to crack down on commercial vendors, for whom he began this process in the first place.
“If we find out that those who provide goods and services to the legal market … are engaged in contracts or underhanded work to have their products provided to the illegal market,” Rebuck said,”there will be significant consequences.”
Bovada at the top of the list
One illegal operation is in Rebuck’s crosshairs: Bovada.
“Does anybody in our field not know,” Rebuck asked rhetorically, “that Bovada is an illegal website taking sports bets and other bets offshore from US citizens?”
The DGE director said Bovada, which boasts the most popular book on the black market, is part of a “shadow industry.” Rebuck added that gambling regulators are spending “an inordinate amount of time” trying to identify the ringleader.
As the regulated sports betting world continues to expand, it will take a village to take down the black market. (Delaware, New Jersey, and Mississippi have all launched regulated wagering, and a host of other states are in the process of going live.)
Rebuck recognized as much, noting that cooperation between state regulators and sports leagues will help accomplish such a feat.
“Hopefully,” Rebuck said, “in the future when we get over … our past disputes … we better start working together on some of these issues because if not, somebody’s going to get burned, and none of us want a scandal.”