The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) has fined two Atlantic City casinos for accepting illegal sports betting wagers.

According to records released by the DGE, Caesars Entertainment and Golden Nugget were both caught in September taking bets related to New Jersey college football games.

The DGE complaints were filed in November and fines were levied in December.

The two cases are the first known fines related to illegal wagers handed out by the DGE since NJ sports betting went live in June.

Illegal bets at Golden Nugget and Caesars

On Sept. 10, 2018, Caesars accepted illegal wagers on a Rutgers Scarlett Knights college football game versus the Kansas Jayhawks.

According to the DGE report, Caesars was fined $2,000 on Dec. 15 after acknowledging the error to regulatory officials.

The court filing states that on or about Dec. 11, 2018:

“Caesars acknowledged the violation and agreed with the Division’s civil penalty determination.”

In a separate ruling, Golden Nugget was similarly caught accepting 10 bets from unknown individuals on “various New Jersey College Football Games in September 2018.”

From the filing:

“Once discovered, the wagers were cancelled; however, the funds were unable to be refunded to the patrons due to their unknown identities.”

As such, Golden Nugget was fined the amount of $390 in gaming winnings owed to those 10 unknown individuals. 

NJ sports betting prohibits bets on NJ college sports

When New Jersey passed its sports betting legislation in June, it prohibited sportsbooks from accepting wagers on college sporting events involving Garden State-based colleges such as Rutgers, Princeton and Seton Hall universities.

It also excluded any college games played inside New Jersey.

From Michael Golub, Deputy Attorney General at the DGE:

“(The casinos) took bets, and we have a prohibition against those bets being taken. So they were improperly posted (and) the bets themselves were voided. If we knew who the gamblers were, those funds got returned to them.”

In the case of Caesars’ fine, the illegal sports bets were placed specifically on a Rutgers game, likely the Sept. 15 game in Kansas. Of course, Caesars AC has no retail sportsbook on the property. So the illegal wagers probably happened at Bally’s or Harrah’s

Since Golden Nugget and Caesars both have sportsbooks based in Las Vegas, it’s also entirely possible that the data feed incorrectly added the New Jersey college games.

And unfortunately, it was not caught before the bets were placed.

“From our standpoint,” Golub said, “(the casinos) are the ones that are posting (the odds), so they’re liable. So if they have any kind of issue about where it came from, that’s something that they’re going to be looking into.”

Where Caesars and Golden Nugget sports betting happens

Both Bally’s and Harrah’s opened temporary sportsbooks in the summer with permanent facilities in the works.

Caesars customers also can use the Caesars sportsbook app or web browser.

Golden Nugget opened its temporary retail sportsbook on Aug. 15 and replaced it with a permanent space on Aug. 31.  

The property currently does not offer online sports betting, but Golden Nugget does have a partnership in place with SBTech and an NJ sportsbook app is likely to happen in the future.

NJ regulators are watching

NJ sports betting is only a few months old, and it has had its share of hiccups despite a robust start to the industry.

Sports betting accounted for $330 million in handle in November and now counts nine retail and nine online sportsbooks in its arsenal.

But NJ regulators are taking nothing for granted.

As such, fines or punishments would escalate if similar problems occurred in the future at Golden Nugget and Caesars.

Casinos themselves would need to have firmer controls and systems in place to prevent such instances from occurring again.

Dustin Gouker contributed to this reporting.

Bill Gelman

About

Bill Gelman is a veteran sports writer based just outside of Philadelphia and not too far from the Jersey Shore. Bill spends time in Atlantic City writing about casino openings and expansions, special events and world championship boxing at Boardwalk Hall. He is now adding NJ sports betting and online gambling to the mix.