The Wire Act Opinion Could Disrupt Online Payments And Deposits In New Jersey

The story goes that the first thing to be affected by the Wire Act opinion is payment processing at NJ online gambling sites. Here’s what you need to know.

The New Jersey online casino alarm bells have been going off this week, and it’s not because of someone hitting the jackpot.

The reason for the alarm stems from the news that the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel reversed course on the Wire Act.

A 2011 Wire Act opinion essentially gave the green light for states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania to launch intrastate online gambling.

Such a reversal means many questions are popping up when it comes to NJ gambling sites.

But the biggest one for players at online casinos and sportsbooks may boil down to this: Will payments and deposits at online gambling sites still work?

Online gambling deposits + Wire Act

In a nutshell, players rely on these sources to fund their NJ online gambling accounts.

But there is a good chance payment processors are on edge since the Wire Act news broke on Monday. There is also a good chance the situation will remain that way until the dust settles. Why?

In many cases, the money transfers are crossing state lines. In the new opinion, transfers of information that cross state lines are considered interstate (not intrastate) and therefore prohibited.

Denying transfers to online gaming sites such as Golden Nugget, DraftKings Sportsbook and other sites could come into play.

Of course, payment processing for NJ gambling sites has been an issue since before the news came out this week. You only have to search Google to hear about depositing woes at NJ sportsbook apps and the like.

Online Poker Report’s Eric Ramsey spoke to Jerry Rau, an emerging markets consultant focused on the gaming industry, about the topic.

“Payment processing has been a struggle since the beginning because of the high decline rate for cards,” Rau told OPR. “So most issuers of credit and debit cards do not approve gaming transactions now. The vast majority of transactions that are attempted [are] declined.

“The issue is revenue versus risk for them. It’s a pure equation. There’s not enough revenue in this for the risk.”

Rau went on to say that PayPal is the “highest risk payment option” due to its size and history of timidness.

“They’re the most skittish of all the processors at this point in time,” he said.

Other depositing options at NJ gambling sites

If banks, credit card companies and PayPal get out of the online gaming business, gamblers will not necessarily be stranded.

The majority of Atlantic City-based online casinos and sportsbooks offer several other funding methods. Some may not necessarily be as convenient, but they work just fine for betting purposes.

  • Cash at the casino cage of a land-based partner (DraftKings customers, for example, would go to Resorts Atlantic City)
  • Purchase a prepaid card (such as SugarHouse, Caesars or Play+)
  • PayNearMe (deposit cash at local 7-Eleven or other participating retailer)

NJ online gaming is fine, for now

Following Monday’s Wire Act announcement, it has been business as usual for NJ online casinos. And it will continue to do so.

According to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE), online gambling sites generated a record $29 million in revenue in December, which is about a 40 percent increase from the same month in 2017.

And here’s the number that stands out even more: $1 billion. That’s the amount of money NJ online gaming has generated in the Garden State since its 2013 launch.

The new Wire Act opinion is enough of a shakeup that it could slow down progress on a lot of fronts, and that includes payments and deposits.

In fact, a new memo from the US Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that surfaced a few days later clarified a few pieces of the opinion. According to the memo, the opinion will not take effect for 90 days as it creates prosecutorial guidelines.

Will payment processors tread lightly and monitor the issue closely in the coming months? It’s highly likely.

Coming This Summer To Atlantic City: An $11 Million Borgata Sportsbook

Borgata Atlantic City announced that it started construction on its $11 million permanent sportsbook complete with an “entertaining bar experience.”

The rumors from the last few months or so are true: Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City is building a permanent sportsbook.

The official construction announcement of the new Borgata Sportsbook is hot off the press release.

Parent company MGM International doesn’t seem to be sparing any expense either. We’re talking “an entertaining bar experience with sports wagering.” Numbers wise, it will add more than $11 million in development to the property.

Think summer 2019. Yes, prime season at the Jersey Shore if not NJ sports betting.

A new sportsbook at Borgata Atlantic City

Borgata generated its share of sports betting buzz back in June by becoming the first Atlantic City Casino to accept a legal sports wager.

The first actual bet was made at Monmouth Park by New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy. NBA Hall-of-Famer Julius Erving placed the first bet at the temporary Borgata space on June 14.

It came three days after the state’s sports betting bill was signed.

A word from Marcus Glover, president and COO for Borgata:

“Since Borgata arrived in the Atlantic City market more than 15 years ago, we have maintained a steadfast dedication to property growth and development, with our new concept exemplifying this objective. We are proud to have been at the forefront of legalized sports betting in New Jersey and look forward to advancing our product with an innovative gaming and entertainment experience for our guests to enjoy.”

Borgata transformed a space dedicated to the horse racing into the Borgata Race & Sports Book. 

Borgata + NJ sports betting

The current temporary space features:

  • 10 betting windows
  • 100 seats with individual flat-screen monitors
  • Video wall with screens to view live sporting events
  • An in-venue bar offering a variety of cold beers and cocktails

Specifics on the new space have yet to be announced, but one can imagine with $11 million in play that it will be something expansive.

MGM, for its part, has more than one skin in the New Jersey sports betting game.

On Aug. 22, Borgata launched the playMGM NJ mobile sports betting app. It offers a full range of US and international sports and betting options.

MGM knows sports betting

Parent company MGM International brought a wealth of sports betting experience to the Garden State. We’re talking 25-plus years of sports wagering in Nevada.

According to the Borgata press release, the company’s resorts combine to write more than four million sports wagers each year with annual handle that exceeds $1 billion.

With sports betting becoming big-time business across the country, MGM isn’t resting on its laurels.

In the last months of 2018, MGM established strategic relationships with professional sports teams and leagues. Deals are in place with the NBA, WNBANHL, MLB and the New York Jets.

Inside The Fines: New Details Emerge About Caesars Illegal NJ Sports Bets

A public records request sheds some light on exactly what unfolded behind the scenes at Caesars when it accepted illegal bets at its NJ sportsbooks.

Sports betting in New Jersey is not exactly off to a smooth start for Caesars Entertainment and its Atlantic City casinos.

Documents acquired via a public records request shed some light on exactly what unfolded behind the scenes at Caesars and the illegal sports bets it accepted in September.

NJ Deputy Attorney General Jennifer K. Russo-Belles sent a letter to Caesars Entertainment dated Nov. 20, 2018.

It reveals details behind last month’s $2,000 fine handed out by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement.

A big no-no: NJ sports betting on Rutgers

According to the letter, the Sept. 10, 2018, football game between Rutgers and Kansas triggered the illegal sports betting alarms. The DGE interviewed Vicki Guveiyian, Caesars Interactive Entertainment’s (CIE) director of gaming technology and innovation, on Sept. 18.

Here is a snippet of the details from the letter:

“While CIE’s Las Vegas Trading Team noticed the game had been incorrectly loaded and removed it from availability within an hour of its posting; CIE’s New Jersey Trading Team did not.

“It was not until the division notified CIE’s New Jersey Trading Team on Sept. 14, 2018, four days later, that CIE voided the bet.”

The patron who placed the $10 wager was refunded the wager amount and credited an additional $10 as a “goodwill gesture,” according to the document.

A second illegal listing on Monmouth-Princeton game

But that’s not all.

It seems, according to Guveiyian, that CIE’s Las Vegas Trading Team “had failed to send out notifications when it discovered the illegal listing because it was unaware of New Jersey’s compliance standards.”

On Sept. 14, according to the letter, Jeff Davis, CIE’s manager of hub operations, sent out an internal memorandum to his staff reiterating “it was illegal to offer New Jersey collegiate games for sports betting.”

But another incident followed eight days later

Caesars offered wagering on the Monmouth-Princeton football game on its SG OpenBet Platform, aka the Caesars Sportsbook app.

Within that one game were two separate prohibited events: The game involved two New Jersey colleges and it was played inside New Jersey.

The wager window was open for 90 minutes before it was disabled. But in this instance, Caesars did not accept any wagers, according to the report. Additionally, Guveiyian notified the DGE.

A rare illegal bet in a young sports betting market

For the most part, despite a few hiccups, it’s smooth sailing with sports betting in New Jersey. This includes NJ online gambling sites such as DraftKings Sportsbook.

While FanDuel Sportsbook had a few growing pains in the early days of its sportsbook, the overall feeling is that things are working as they should.

To date, seven out of the nine Atlantic City casinos have operational retail sportsbooks. Caesars is one of the two properties without one (Hard Rock Atlantic City, for now, is the other).

Caesars customers use the sportsbook at the connected Bally’s Wild Wild West casino, its sister property. Meanwhile, Caesars also accepts bets at its sportsbook app. And it has an online partnership with 888 Sport NJ, too.

The bigger picture is that to date, only one other casino has been hit with a NJ sports betting fine. Golden Nugget was the other.

The Marina District property was flagged by the DGE around the same time for accepting 10 illegal bets from unknown individuals on “various New Jersey college football games in September.”

Golden Nugget was slapped with a $390 fine.

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DGE keeping an eye on Caesars

Caesars sports betting continues under the watchful eye of the DGE.

No additional penalties or fines outside of the two incidents have come to light. But at the same time, additional compliance measures are now in place.

More details from the letter:

“Caesars shall immediately ensure that proper training and procedural controls are implemented to prevent any further prohibited events from being displayed, especially those involving New Jersey college teams or any NCAA events played in New Jersey.”

And at this point, there is no room for error. The DGE is watching.

“… permitted wagering on prohibited sports events may result in more formal regulatory action.”

Five Things To Know About The DraftKings’ Sports Betting National Championship

All eyes turn to Jersey City this weekend for DraftKings Sportsbook’s first-ever Sports Betting National Championship. Here’s what to know before you go.

The NCAA crowned Clemson its national football champion Monday night.

The championship spotlight now shifts to DraftKings Sportsbook and its first-ever Sports Betting National Championship (SBNC).

The event — the first one to take place outside of Nevada — is taking place Jan. 11-13, at the DraftKings VIP Sportsbook venue in Jersey City — located minutes away from New York City.

There may not be a Vince Lombardi Trophy to hoist into the air, but the top players will walk away with large sums of cash. There is a $2.5 million guaranteed prize pool with the top finisher walking away with more than $1,000,000.

What to know before you go to Jersey City

Sports betting is not legal in New York City (though it is legal in Pennsylvania), but residents outside of New Jersey age 21 and older are eligible to participate.

With that, there is a maximum of 600 entries, one per person, at the DraftKings’ national championship.

Like a PGA tournament, the key to victory is being at the top of the leaderboard at the end of the weekend.

Here are five other things to know if you plan or hope to make it to Jersey City this weekend.

1. Betting hours

The DraftKings’ national championship isn’t open 24 hours a day. Instead, here are the set hours of action:

  • Fridays: Noon- 1 a.m.
  • Saturdays: 8 a.m.-1 a.m.
  • Sundays: 8 a.m.-4:25 p.m. (scheduled kickoff of NFC Divisional game)

2. Wagering requirements

Players must wager a total of $2,000 on Sunday’s NFL games to be eligible for prizes.

Here are some other basic rules:

  • Bet on any sport you want on Friday and Saturday (players must place a total of $1,000 in bets by the close of competition on Saturday).
  • You can bet only on the two NFL divisional playoff games (Chargers vs. Patriots and Eagles vs. Saints) on Sunday.

3. Betting options and guidelines

All bet types including point spreads, parlays, cash-outs and live betting are permitted.

Players can bet on games outside of the SBNC tournament using their DraftKings Sportsbook app. But here’s a warning to those who choose to go this route.

From DraftKings’ website:

“Wagers made outside the SBNC tournament account or using DraftKings Sportsbook account funds will not count — only wagers using the SBNC tournament dollars are eligible.”

4. Prizes and winners

Players will take home their final bankroll at the end of the weekend.

Prize money will be transferred to your DraftKings’ online account and eligible for withdrawal.

The top 10 finishers will walk away with at least $50,000 apiece. Here is the prize breakdown:

  • $1,000,000 (first)
  • $350,000 (runnerup)
  • $250,000 (third place)
  • $175,000 (fourth)
  • $100,000 (fifth)
  • $75,000 (sixth and seventh)
  • $50,000 (eighth through 10th)

Note: The above breakdown is based on 531 or fewer entries. 

5. New York, New York

You do not need to be in New Jersey for the entire tournament.

While some may want to stay at the tournament site during betting hours, it’s not required. Taking a timeout to visit New York City is permitted.

Here’s how to enjoy both:

  • Players must be in New Jersey to bet.
  • Players are required to check in with DraftKings once during scheduled hours at the player hotel (DraftKings has set aside room blocks) or event location before 1 p.m. Sunday.
  • Players are free to spend the remainder of their time as they please.

How do I earn a spot at DraftKings Sports Betting National Championship?

Want to play? Secure a spot by purchasing a direct buy-in for $10,000 (includes $5,000 entry and $5,000 bankroll).

Spots are reservable via:

The other, cheaper way to enter is winning tonight’s (Jan. 8) NBA Daily Fantasy Sports qualifier.

That entry fee is $16 and here’s how it works:

  • The top finisher earns a spot in the sports betting national championship.
  • Second through 32nd place will win cash prizes, but not the golden ticket.
  • Multi-entry contest (up to 28)
  • Players in all eight NBA games taking place tonight are eligible to be drafted.
  • The total number of available spots is 955.

Follow the NJ sports betting action as it happens online

For those who can’t attend but still want to know what happens this weekend, you can follow along on Twitter via @TheLinesUS (www.thelines.com).

They’ll have all the details and commentary, plus videos and interviews.

William Hill US Continues Expansion Plans, Hires New Head Of Digital

With NJ sports betting in the spotlight for now, William Hill US hires Kenneth Fuchs as its new president of digital and makes moves in US sports betting.

William Hill US heads into 2019 looking to enhance its digital offerings. Kenneth Fuchsthe new president of digital, will have a big hand in those plans.

The hiring of Fuchs, who most recently served as CEO of Stats, was announced earlier this month.

William Hill NJ is a major player in the NJ sports betting market.

Besides the New Jersey mobile/online sports betting platform, it operates retail sportsbooks at Monmouth Park, Ocean Resortand Tropicana Atlantic City.

Joe Asher, CEO of William Hill US, spoke about Fuchs joining the team in a press release:

“He has a proven record at leading technology/media companies and a strong digital background that will allow us to continue to innovate and enhance our digital offerings as additional states legalize sports betting.”

Fuchs brings extensive digital experience to the table

In his time with Stats, he oversaw a company that is considered the global leader in providing sports data and ancillary products to large companies.

The client list includes Google, Apple, Amazon, ESPN, New England Patriotsand William Hill.

Fuchs previously served as vice president of Yahoo Sports, Yahoo Finance and Yahoo Entertainment and Music, where he oversaw day-to-day operations and strategy.

His time at Yahoo included leading the development and growth of its fantasy sports business.

William Hill launches in New Jersey

William Hill made New Jersey sports betting history on June 14, 2018, when the first legal sports bet was accepted at the Monmouth Park Sports Book by William Hill.

Fourteen days later, the temporary William Hill Sportsbook at Ocean Resort opened in Atlantic City.  The permanent space opened in time for the start of the NFL season. William Hill also launched its mobile app on Sept. 1.

In November, the London-based company opened the temporary William Hill Sports Book at Tropicana. The permanent space is under construction

But the partnerships are now extending beyond casinos and racetracks.

In the fall, the company struck a deal with the New Jersey Devils and the Prudential Center to build a William Hill Sports Lounge inside the arena.

The space, which opened earlier this month, features 20-plus digital screens “showcasing the world’s most popular sporting events and compelling odds.”

Sports betting beyond New Jersey

Just like in Europe, William Hill is one of those brands that continue to pop up on the sports betting map.

In Nevada alone, the company operates 108 sportsbooks, not including the state’s leading mobile sports betting app.

In Pennsylvania, William Hill US is partnered with Hollywood Casino at Penn National. The property launched the Keystone State’s first retail sportsbook on Nov. 17.

William Hill then struck agreements with 11 casinos in Mississippi to offer retail and mobile/online sports betting. In West Virginia, a similar deal is in place with the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races.

It seems this is only the beginning.

According to a press release posted on the William Hill US website,  “the company is also in discussions with operators about sports betting deals that would cover a further 14 US states.”  

Fuchs plans to play a major role in the expansion process.

He shared his excitement about joining the William Hill team in a news release:

“Sports betting is just getting started in the United States, and I’m thrilled to be joining one of the world’s most recognized and respected brands at such an exciting time.

“William Hill US already has an established, successful business in Nevada and has made fantastic progress since sports betting was legalized elsewhere earlier this year.  I look forward to working with the team in our pursuit of market leadership and delivering great digital and mobile experiences for our customers and partners.”

Down The NJ Sports Betting Stretch: Freehold Raceway Mapping Out Its Launch Plans

NJ sports betting has a lot of players already, but Freehold Raceway has plans in the works and Penn National, while quiet, isn’t staying quiet for long.

Freehold Raceway did not make it out of the NJ sports betting starting gates in 2018. It’s looking like this year is going to be a different story.

The partnerships and launch date for online and retail sports betting remain a mystery, but based on a recent Associated Press story, serious discussions are well underway.

The racetrack, located in Central New Jersey, is co-owned by Penn National Gaming and Greenwood Racing. Chris McErlean, a vice president with Penn National Gaming, addressed the plans.

“It’s a good market, and Freehold’s location and demographics bode well for us. We are anxious to get in the game.”

We reached out to Penn National for additional details about the sports betting plans, but the company had nothing new to report.

The racetrack already has its sports betting license from the state racing commision. Freehold would still need to obtain one from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement.

A temporary retail sportsbook space would need to be built as well.

NJ sports betting trifecta at the racetracks

Freehold Raceway going live with retail and online wagering would mean New Jersey’s three active racetracks are all in the sports betting game.

Nearby Monmouth Park and the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford are well-established at this point in the game.

The Monmouth Park Sports Book by William Hill accepted the first legal bet in New Jersey sports betting history on June 14. SugarHouse Sportsbook, William Hill NJand TheScore have land-based partnerships in place to offer mobile/online gambling. 

SugarHouse, for its part, joined with Monmouth only recently in order to offer NBA bets.

The FanDuel Sportsbook at the Meadowlands launched July 14.  The FanDuel sports betting app followed on Sept. 1. PointsBet, based out of Australia, has a land-based partnership with the Meadowlands as well. The sports betting platform had a soft launch on Dec. 11.  

However, the delayed start doesn’t seem to be a major concern.

McErlean addressed it in the AP story:

“We’ve been trying to take a measured approach. There was a big rush at the beginning with a lot of locations to get up and running. It’s going to be a long-term thing.”  

The Monmouth Park factor

Freehold and Monmouth Park are both located in Ocean County. The racetracks are about 20 miles apart, or a 30-minute drive.

For November, according to figures released by the DGE, Monmouth collected $2,679,395 in sports betting revenue. The number is a combination of the William Hill sportsbook app along with the retail operation.

Freehold Raceway itself is located walking distance from the Freehold Raceway Mall, one of the busiest and most popular in the Garden State.

With such a strong competitor nearby and one with months of practice and promotions under its belt, time will tell how much of an impact the two sportsbooks will have on each other.  

A Pennsylvania sports betting connection

Over in Pennsylvania, Hollywood Casino at Penn National Racecourse launched its retail sportsbook on Nov. 17.

It was the first Pennsylvania-based casino to permit sports betting in the Keystone State. The deal includes a partnership with William Hill, just like the one at Monmouth.

Mobile sports betting is expected to follow soon, possibly as soon as the first quarter of this year.

Meanwhile, Parx, owned by Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment, is in the final stages of launching its retail sportsbook.

There was speculation that the property located in the Philadelphia suburbs would open the space in December. The company partnered with Kambi, a European-based company that operates sportsbooks around the globe.

In New Jersey, Kambi has a hand in the industry-leading DraftKings Sportsbook, as well as SugarHouse and 888 Sport.

The owners of Freehold Raceway could decide to extend these existing partnerships. There also could be mystery partners behind door No. 2.

Looking into that 2019 crystal ball, the only thing that seems to be close to a sure thing is that Freehold Raceway will be adding sports betting soon.  

Image credit: Stefan Holm / Shutterstock.com