The New Jersey crackdown on offshore sports betting has begun. And already, it appears, the state has begun seeing results.
Following a letter sent by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement earlier this month, the affiliate betting website OddsShark, which markets regulated and offshore sportsbooks, is no longer accessible by users with IP addresses in New Jersey.
Boiled down: The website that caters to popular illegal sportsbooks such as Bovada and BetOnline no longer reaches into New Jersey.
This marks a renewed interest of New Jersey pushing back on offshore sports betting sites. Five years ago, NJ issued a similar warning to Bovada.
DGE sends warning-filled letter to OddsShark
The DGE’s letter to OddsShark can be seen here.
It noted that the DGE reviewed the OddsShark website and noticed it promoted authorized NJ sports betting products alongside illegal platforms such as Bovada, BetOnline and 5Dimes, among others.
As such, the state warned OddsShark of potential repercussions if it continues to operate this way in New Jersey.
“This letter shall serve as official notice that your website, by offering unauthorized online gaming and sports betting links, is promoting activity that is contrary to New Jersey and federal law,” according to the letter dated Feb. 9.
“We request that you immediately remove any online gaming links that are not authorized under federal law or under the law of any State. The State of new Jersey reserves the right to pursue appropriate civil or criminal sanctions against you if you fail to take the requested actions.”
DGE letter hints at legal repercussions
In one of the first examples of a state with legal sports betting actually going after offshore wagering, New Jersey came out swinging.
The letter stated that the DGE “will not license or register any company that is promoting illegal sites, as this activity negatively affects that company’s good character, honesty, and integrity.”
“Additionally, the Division has instructed all New Jersey internet gaming and sports betting providers that they must cease doing business with any affilliate that promotes illegal gaming sites, regardless of whether the provider and affiliate are promoting New Jersey activity or activity in other jurisdictions.”
While the Garden State requested OddsShark either sever ties with those offshore books or cease operating in New Jersey altogether, the state also served a warning.
OddsShark, per the letter, “may be violating the criminal laws of the State of New Jersey.” It noted that the website could be committing racketeering and illegal promotion of gambling as examples. The DGE instructed all New Jersey casinos and internet gaming providers to cease doing any business with OddsShark.
“Additionally, the Division has also copied the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice on this letter so that it may consider taking appropriate legal action.”
OddsShark faces decision
OddsShark is not exactly a nobody when it comes to sports betting. Frequently, the platform is cited by various sports media when it comes to odds and lines.
But the DGE is not about to let that continue.
The letter cited a DGE Director’s Advisory Bulletin from June 2015, in which the division notified operators and affiliates to cut ties with any illegal partners lest they be eliminated from or prevented from joining the New Jersey market.
When it comes to staying afloat, offshore sportsbooks rely on marketing and promotion from sites like OddsShark. DGE is at least forcing OddsShark to make a choice between promoting legal or illegal options.
DGE director continues fight against offshore
David Rebuck, director of the DGE, has long had the illegal sports betting industry in his crosshairs.
Last fall, Rebuck told GamblingCompliance that if “I find out that you are actively engaged in doing illegal gambling in the United States, you’re barred.”
In July, at the East Coast Gaming Congress, Rebuck shared how he recognized that the regulated NJ online gambling industry was already “cannibalizing the illegal online gaming market.” NJ sports betting would chip away even more at the offshore industry.
He added that if he discovered platforms servicing the legal and illegal markets, “there will be significant consequences.”
Bovada, specifically, has remained at the top of Rebuck’s list. He related that gaming regulators were spending “an inordinate about of time” attempting to identify the company’s head honcho.
Rebuck recognized that illegal sportsbooks are “very good at what they do,” in terms of staying operational while remaining in the shadows.
But this letter, and the disappearance of OddsShark from within New Jersey, shows that the DGE, in cooperation with regulated operators and other state departments, can find ways to protect the legal sports betting industry from offshore activity.
Editor’s Note: NJGamblingSites.com is an affiliate website that promotes legal online sportsbooks, casinos and poker sites in New Jersey.