No Problems For Borgata Online Gambling As GVC Gets Full License In New Jersey

For now, everything stays the same for Borgata’s New Jersey online gambling presence after partner GVC Holdings received regulatory approval.

For now, everything stays the same for Borgata’s New Jersey online gambling presence.

Earlier this month, GVC Holdings was approved to continue operating as a gaming licensee by the New Jersey Department of Gaming Enforcement. GVC had bought Borgata’s online gambling partner, bwin.party, earlier this year.

GVC’s dealings were up to NJ standards

Now that GVC has its full license, it can continue to offer online gaming via Borgata, without a cloud over the relationship of the two parties. There were reports earlier this year that GVC might have a difficult time gaining a license after the DGE announced it would take a company’s operations outside the U.S. into consideration when determining whether or not to grant a license.

GVC is based in the Isle of Man — the home of PokerStars — and has licenses in 14 countries, meaning it has already undergone scrutiny from some regulators. Although some thought GVC would not be suitable under NJ regulations, the company announced via a press release the granting of its license.

In the release, GVC CEO Kenneth Alexander said he was “delighted the DGE has confirmed that GVC meets its stringent regulatory requirements and that bwin.party can continue to operate in New Jersey under its current licenses.” That includes online poker site PartyPoker.

According to the release, the DGE told GVC the license was approved because “GVC and its individual qualifiers possess the requisite good character, honesty, and integrity should it file for a transactional waiver.”

Borgata backup plan no longer necessary

In an effort to hedge its bets on GVC’s licensing, Borgata started talks with turnkey internet gaming solutions provider Game Account Network.

As Online Poker Report’s Joss Wood put it, “That may have simply been a precautionary stopgap measure, if GVC had not won regulatory approval in the state.”

Now that its online partner is licensed, Borgata will build upon the more than $115 million it has amassed in online gaming revenues since the Internet industry was allowed in 2013.

However, Borgata is also undergoing a bit of a shakeup, as MGM Resorts bought out Boyd Gaming’s 50 percent share of the Atlantic City property. What changes that might mean for online gambling is not yet known.

GVC Has Long History of Acquisitions

According to GVC’s website, the international betting and gaming conglomerate is no stranger to buying up gambling enterprises. It’s first acquisition took place in 2004 when it bought CasinoClub. From there, GVC accomplished the following milestones in its history:

  • In 2007, current CEO Kenneth Alexander took over, a move which helped “reinvigorate” the organization.
  • Two years later, GVC acquired Betboo, an entity which focused its efforts on Brazil.
  • In 2012, it launched talks with William Hill to acquire online sports betting and oddsmaker Sportingbet.
  • The Sportingbet acquisition went through in March 2013

That GVC was able to acquire bwin.party was a bit of a coup, as bwin.party had already agreed to a “cash and share offer” of more than one million dollars from 888 Holdings.

Upon the finalization of the deal, GVC was quoted as saying it hoped it would open up opportunities in certain Asian and African markets where the bwin name was associated “with a number of internationally recognized football brands.”

NJ Gambling Sites Would Have To Promote Land-Based Casinos Under New Bill

Online gambling sites in New Jersey would have to promote a land-based casino prominently, under legislation that recently passed a committee vote.

New Jersey State Assemblyman Ralph Caputo thinks he scored a victory on behalf of land-based casinos in the state.

This past week, the Assembly Tourism, Gaming and Arts Committee approved AB 2811, which would require online gambling sites operating in New Jersey to “prominently advertise the name of its Atlantic City casino on its Internet gaming websites and advertisements”.

Existing laws don’t require casino promotion

The New Jersey Division of Gaming and Enforcement requires that all Internet gambling sites operating in the state must form partnerships with existing land-based casinos in order to operate in the state.

However, those websites are not required to advertise or promote the land-based casinos through which they operate. For websites like PokerStars, 888 and PartyPoker that lack a land-based presence in Atlantic City, partnerships are necessary in order to operate in New Jersey. Currently, there is no requirement that these operators prominently promote their partner on their sites.

Many of the existing websites, though, were created by land-based New Jersey casinos and already meet the advertising standards.

A list of the five casinos and their gaming websites can be viewed on the DGE’s Internet Gaming Sites page.

According to a June 2 press release from the Assembly Democrats, the bill will also require Internet gaming sites to be supervised by the DGE to make sure they’re complying with the advertising regulations.

Caputo believes online gambling should be leveraged more to help AC

In an article from PolitickerNJ.com, Caputo was quoted as saying that internet gambling makes people want to stay home instead of heading out to New Jersey’s premier legendary gaming city. That’s despite the fact that the “cannibalization myth” has largely been debunked, as casinos generally believe online gambling helps the brick-and-mortar casinos.

“People are not going to Atlantic City because they’re betting on the internet,” Caputo said. “So they’ve lost more patrons, more room occupancies.”

Caputo went on to say that the current internet gaming laws were intended to help Atlantic City, but that he believes the efforts were “really counterproductive” and that “whatever they gained they lost on the other end.”

Thus, Caputo asserts that his bill will help the land-based casinos, and by doing so, will also drive traffic back to their gaming websites. Most industry observers agree that in fact this has already happened, and that the regulated gambling sites have indeed helped lure a new and younger demographic to casinos in Atlantic City.

Caputo not a fan of online gambling

Yet the assemblyman’s distaste for internet gambling in his state is nothing new. Caputo has long been an outspoken critic of New Jersey online gambling.

In an August 2014 op-ed for the Star-Ledger, Caputo heavily criticized PokerStars for continuing to operate in the United States after the 2006 passage of the UIGEA.

Caputo called PokerStars a “disgraced online gambling giant” and concluded his scathing op-ed with the following warning:

“There’s too much at stake to act hastily and without the necessary due diligence to ensure that a bad actor is not given free rein in New Jersey and that all players seeking the privilege to do business in this state understand that dubious business dealings will not be tolerated.”

Of course, in the intervening period, PokerStars has launched its New Jersey online poker site with great success in conjunction with its land-based partner, Resorts. PokerStars is rumored to be constructing a live poker room at the property.

Caputo optimistic about Atlantic City’s future

Caputo’s bill must move through the Senate and then receive a signature from Gov. Chris Christie in order to be officially approved.

According to the text of the bill, once it’s signed, it takes effect, which means, in theory, changes will take place quickly.

And they couldn’t come too soon for Caputo, who is still holding out hope that Atlantic City will bounce back from its recent financial woes.

“Amid all the new stories and headlines, it is easy to forget that Atlantic City still has plenty to offer as far as gambling, dining, shopping and entertainment,” Caputo wrote in the Assembly press release. “We should use every opportunity available to promote the casinos still standing.”

New Poll Shows North Jersey Casino Referendum Is A Dead Heat

Voters appear to be split on whether to allow two new casinos in northern New Jersey ahead of a referendum in November.

Monmouth University’s Polling Institute added more fuel to the already raging debate about the future of New Jersey’s casino industry. The group just released the results of a poll in which voters were deadlocked on how they will cast ballots in a November referendum allowing up to two new casinos in North Jersey.

The poll: An even split on new casinos

The Institute detailed the results of its poll, in which it called New Jersey voters between May 23 and May 27 to ask them about the casino referendum. They collected data on a straight vote, as well as vote in relation to political party and region.

In terms of a straight-up vote untethered to political parties or regions, voters were in a dead heat: 48% of voters said they wouldn’t support the referendum and 48% said they would.

Patrick Murray, director of the Institute confirmed that the referendum is a toss-up right now.

“The fate of the casino expansion measure is anyone’s guess,” he said in the release. “The public does not express overwhelming confidence that adding North Jersey casinos will be an economic boon and there is widespread concern that this would hurt an already precarious Atlantic City.”

Splits by party, region on referendum

When polled by political party, Democrats were significantly more supportive than Republicans:

  • 53% of Democrat voters supported the referendum
  • 44% of Republican voters supported the referendum

In terms of regional support, North Jersey residents were most enthusiastic about the referendum. Here’s a breakdown of the results from North, Central and South Jersey:

  • North Jersey: 52% for, 42% against
  • Central Jersey: 45% for, 52% against
  • South Jersey: 42% for and 54% against

Polling shows support for city-led recovery

The polling took place during a volatile period in New Jersey’s gambling landscape. Gov. Chris Christie just signed an aid package for Atlantic City that gives the jurisdiction five months to get its finances in order. If it doesn’t, the state may take over the city’s affairs.

While the final outcome for AC is not determined, voters are relatively split on what should happen, as well: 51% said the state shouldn’t intrude on the city’s finances, while 42% gave Trenton the green light to intervene.

Predictions on the advent of North Jersey casinos range from a boon to Atlantic City to the possibility that three to five casinos could close.

Positive support of gambling on the decline

The Monmouth report also polled people on whether gambling was good for the state. Fifty-four percent of people who responded said they believe it’s good for the state.

While that statistic may be encouraging, the study pointed out that, back in 1999, nearly three out of four New Jersey voters said gambling was beneficial for the state.

In addition to sentiment about the November referendum, researchers wanted to know how people felt about gambling’s effects on Atlantic City.

According to the report, “38% say A.C. is actually worse off today than it would have been if gambling had never been allowed compared to 31% who say that A.C. is better of than it would have been without casinos.”

 

Resorts CEO: Up To Five Atlantic City Resorts Could Close If North Jersey Casinos Approved

The CEO of Resorts said up to five Atlantic City casinos could be forced to close their doors if casinos in North Jersey are approved by voters.

Already teetering from debt, up to five casinos in Atlantic City may be in jeopardy this fall, according to one casino executive.

In November, New Jersey citizens will cast their vote on a referendum which would allow the opening of up to two casinos in North Jersey. Included in the referendum is a stipulation that up to $200 million of revenue from the new casinos will be sent to Atlantic City for non-casino improvements.

Should the referendum pass, it will mark the first time in the state’s history that casinos have been allowed outside of Atlantic City.

That drastic shift in the state’s gaming history presents a big problem for Atlantic City’s iconic casinos, Resorts Casino and Hotel CEO Mark Giannantonio said this past week at the East Coast Gaming Congress.

The projected effects if the referendum passes

According to Press of Atlantic City, Giannantonio presented a plethora of metrics during a discussion panel, including the following predicted effects of November’s vote:

  • Three to five casinos will close
  • 23,000 in job losses
  • Foreclosures will double
  • Unemployment will double

The statistics were the result of a study that Resorts commissioned; results of that study will be released later this week, Press of Atlantic City reported.

New Meadowlands boss scoffs at report

Jeff Gural, CEO of New Meadowlands Racetrack, sparred with Giannantonio during a Gaming Congress session about the report.

According to NJBiz.com, Gural called the report “crazy” and “meaningless”.

He went on to point out that the revenue sharing aspect of the referendum will bring some much needed improvements to Atlantic City.

“To get to your casino, you have to drive through a slum,” he was quoted as saying to Giannantonio. “You need it more than anybody.”

Sweeney optimistic about Atlantic City’s future

While Giannantonio was rather pessimistic in his forecast, New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney was optimistic.

He was quoted as saying that, though Atlantic City has suffered financially over the years, the city is ready for a rebound – his message was, “The best is still ahead.”

Sweeney said November’s referendum will help, rather than harm, the gambling hot spot.

“When we came up with legislation to expanding gaming, it was to ensure Atlantic City would benefit and have the funding to diversify its economy,” he said.

Sweeney’s words were no doubt supported by the State Assembly’s approval of a package of bills that would give time for Atlantic City to formulate a plan to combat its $550 million debt.

Just four days later, the Senate also passed the bills, and Gov. Chris Christie signed the aid package on Friday. That end months of contentious negotiations over AC in the state.

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Rep. Pallone Takes Spotlight At Daily Fantasy Sports Hearing In Congress

Rep. Frank Pallone from New Jersey made his voice heard recently at Congressional hearings about daily fantasy sports.

Rep. Frank Pallone from New Jersey made his voice heard recently at Congressional hearings about daily fantasy sports.

Pallone participated in a U.S. House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade hearing titled, “Daily Fantasy Sports: Issues and Perspectives.” The hearing was the first of its kind at the federal level.

Pallone talks sports betting

According to several reports, including an article by USA Today reporter A.J. Perez, Pallone was not shy about his support of sports gambling in New Jersey and elsewhere.

“I would like us to legalize sports betting,” Pallone was quoted as saying. “I am hoping this panel and the statements that were made about why it doesn’t make sense to allow (sports betting) to go underground and run by organized crime would lead us to some kind of legislation.”

Pallone also pointed out that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in Nov. 2014 that sports betting should be “brought out of the underground and into the sunlight.”

This isn’t Pallone’s first time leading the charge against laws prohibiting sports betting. This past September, he penned a five-page letter to the House Energy and Commerce Committee (of which he the ranking member) requesting a hearing to “review the legal status of fantasy sports”.

In the letter, he asked why fantasy sports, which he believes is a form of gambling, is treated differently than sports betting in the U.S.

Pallone on daily fantasy sports

Pallone noted that fantasy sports are allowed federally under a clause in the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. That clause says that fantasy sports are exempt from online gambling prohibitions as long as they meet the criteria in UIGEA and abide by state laws.

He went on to argue that at one time or another the MLB, NFL and NBA condoned league players participating in fantasy sports.

Up until this past fall — when daily fantasy sports came under legal challenges in New York and elsewhere the DFS industry was able to thrive and grow, largely without pushback. Then came a number of state attorneys general who opined that DFS is illegal gambling in the months before the Congressional hearing was convened.

The DFS hearing: Much ado about nothing?

Legal Sports Report wrote that little should be expected in the way of action in the wake of the hearing. A Fortune article said the hearing was a meandering mess, noting that several representatives seemed to be “unfamiliar with the concept of daily fantasy sports.”

One lawyer in attendance was quoted as saying the meeting was, at worst, “a colossal waste of time” and that Pallone may have mustered enough momentum to get another hearing.

According to USA Today, representatives from the major North American pro sports leagues were invited to the hearing, yet nobody from those leagues appeared. Each league, except for the NFL, owns equity in DraftKings or FanDuel, while most teams in all those leagues have sponsorship deals with the DFS sites.

Though nobody from DraftKings or FanDuel attended the meeting, Peter Schoenke, chairman of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, was quoted as saying that laws against sports betting don’t apply to DFS sites because they offer games of skill, not chance.