Golden Nugget not among online gambling sites ready for New Jersey trial launch

new-jersey-golden-nugget-online-gamblingUPDATE: Late Thursday afternoon, the DGE updated its list of the approved ‘soft play’ online gambling sites to include the following Golden Nugget/Bally Technologies domains:

New Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) has published its list of the websites okayed to participate in the state’s online gambling trial period which commences Thursday (21) at 6pm. The trial period is scheduled to last five days, with wide-scale real-money play officially set to commence on Tuesday (26). Each approved casino is allowed up to five ‘branded skins’ operating under its online gambling permit. The approved sites taking their positions in Thursday’s starting gate are as follows:

Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa and its online platform provider digital entertainment:

Bally’s, Caesars Interactive Entertainment and 888 Holdings:

Caesars Atlantic City and Amaya Gaming Group:

Tropicana Casino & Resort and GameSys:

Trump Plaza and Betfair:

Trump Taj Mahal and Ultimate Gaming:

Of the seven Atlantic City casinos that have already been issued online gambling permits, only the Golden Nugget has not received approval for its Bally Technologies-powered online site to launch on Thursday. The DGE has not provided any insight into why the Golden Nugget was left on the sidelines, but the Associated Press claimed the Nugget’s technology had failed to pass muster during the DGE’s testing phase. In August, the Nugget’s owners suggested it was considering selling the financially struggling casino or possibly auctioning off its online gambling rights in the state.

ray-lesniak-world-is-yoursMeanwhile, New Jersey state Sen. Ray Lesniak (pictured) followed through on his promise to announce legislation positioning the state as a regulatory hub for online gambling operators serving non-US customers. Lesniak said his goal was to make his state “a global destination for internet gaming,” insisting “there’s no reason this business should be going to Gibraltar or the Isle of Man.” Lesniak believes New Jersey’s “well regulated and highly respected” casino industry gives it an advantage over other regulatory hubs and said that the impetus behind the bill was requests from international operators.

Assuming Lesniak’s bill (full text available here) meets with no opposition from his fellow legislators or Gov. Chris Christie, operators holding a restricted foreign internet wagering (RFIW) permit would be required to base all their technology in New Jersey and pay the state 10% of their gross gambling revenue, plus a further 5% for the state’s alternative investment tax. RFIW permit holders would be allowed to claim a credit against “any tax imposed under the laws of this State on income derived from foreign Internet wagering conducted in this State in an amount equal to any tax on that income paid” to any foreign jurisdiction.

Initial license fees would be no less than $200k, annual renewals no less than $100k, and a further $100k would go toward problem gambling initiatives. RFIW permit holders will also have to contribute to a fund benefiting the state’s horseracing industry. Collectively, this fund is to total $20m in each of the first three years the scheme is operational.

The bill would allow an operator to offer any form of gaming legally permissible in the jurisdictions it served, including sports betting. Lesniak stressed that RFIW permit holders wouldn’t be allowed to sign up US customers or share liquidity with the operators the state has licensed for handling US customers. Lesniak acknowledged that his bill might generate flak from World Trade Organization (WTO) watchdogs given the WTO’s condemnation of America’s already hypocritical stance toward online gambling.

Lesniak also used the conference call discussing his bill to continue his war of words with online gambling nemesis Sheldon Adelson. Lesniak said the curmudgeonly Las Vegas Sands boss needed to “get a life” and that if Adelson was truly serious about protecting the most vulnerable members of society from gambling’s ills, he should direct his venom toward state lotteries, not online gambling.