The New Jersey Division of Gaming handed down a $10,000 fine to Caesars Interactive for sending promotional e-mails to 250 people on the state’s self-exclusion list according to the Press of Atlantic City.

As the industry approaches its one-year anniversary, this is the first fine an online gaming company has received in New Jersey. However, as I’ll explain below, don’t expect this to be the last.

After realizing the mistake had occurred, Caesars self-reported the violation to the New Jersey DGE.

According to Caesars Interactive’s Vice President of Communications Seth Palansky, the e-mails were an oversight by the company, and the backend system glitch that caused promotional material to be sent to some 250 people on the self-exclusion list between the dates of February 16 and May 28 has been corrected.

Palansky told the Press of AC that the company regrets “the harm this incident may have caused.” Palansky went on to say, “We can assure the public that this lapse on our part was not an intentional targeting of these patrons, but simply a back-end software issue that failed to properly scrub our database before certain mailings.”

Bound to happen

While an unfortunate incident, it should be noted that fines of this type are bound to happen. Be it banks or brick & mortar casinos, errors occur, and the online gambling industry is no different.

Brick & Mortar casino are routinely fined by the state gaming commissions and control boards tasked with overseeing the industry – and like the Caesars Interactive fine, many of these violations are self-reported as well. These fines can be for any number of transgressions, from incorrect slot machine settings, to credit violations, to allowing access to underage and problem gamblers, to faulty promotional offers, to employment issues.

The point is, these things happen, and like the brick & mortar industry, the iGaming providers in New Jersey will have to pay the piper when they occur.

Fine will have positive and negative consequences

The fine will almost certainly be used against the industry by its critics, but in the end it demonstrates how important regulations are, and why consumers are much better off with legal online gambling. Nothing is perfect and human errors will occur.

So even though the fine will provide easy fodder for Sheldon Adelson and the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG), it still seems as though it can be turned into a net positive. Remember that Sheldon Adelson said something to the effect that “there is no regulation in place at a land based casino that can be enforced online,” during his impassioned keynote speech at G2E 2014.

Well Mr. Adelson, allow me to present Exhibit A, the NJ DGE’s fine levied against Caesars Interactive for violating the self-exclusion list policies.

The fine handed down by the New Jersey DGE also shows:

  1. The regulations that have been put in place not only work but can be enforced
  2. The current companies involved in the industry are legitimate, good actors, and are not going to cover things up

To offer a comparison, what are the chances that a current unlicensed site maintains a self-exclusion, would adhere to it, and would self-report itself for violating it?

Make no mistake about it, New Jerseyans are much better off with a company that has the occasional slip-up (and pays the price for those errors) than Option B, which would be the return of unregulated online sites who answer to no one.

Steve Ruddock

About

Steve is a seasoned veteran of the online gambling industry, having written about it from every possible angle in his many years as a freelance gaming writer. Based in Massachusetts, Steve especially focuses on regulatory and legislative news coverage pertaining to the U.S. market.