New Jersey ponders tougher licensing hurdles for online gambling operators

TAGs: Amaya Gaming, Betfair, New Jersey Online Gambling, PokerStars, ralph caputo, Trump Entertainment Resorts, ultimate gaming

pokerstars-ralph-caputo-keep-outA New Jersey Assembly committee has approved a bill that would require online gambling operators to undergo more thorough investigations in order to participate in the state’s regulated market. At present, New Jersey requires online gambling operators to obtain a casino service industry license from the Division of Gaming Enforcement. The new bill would require operators to apply for full casino licenses, which would require public hearings and the approval of the Casino Control Commission.

On Thursday, the Assembly Tourism, Gaming and Arts Committee unanimously approved the new bill, which was sponsored by Assemblyman Ralph Caputo (pictured). In August, Caputo wrote an op-ed lamenting the fact that Amaya Gaming’s $4.9b acquisition of online poker giant PokerStars had made it more likely that Stars would be allowed entry into the state’s regulated market. Caputo called Stars “the disgraced online gambling giant” that may be “the dirtiest” operator clamoring for admission.

Following the vote, Caputo told the Press of Atlantic City he wasn’t “condemning anybody” but believes an operator with PokerStars’ “type of background should have an investigation and appear in public.” Caputo admitted he “was never a fan of Internet gaming … but if we’re going to do it, we should do it right.” Caputo’s bill has an uphill climb to become the law of the land and Caputo has yet to find a sponsor for a companion bill in the state Senate.

Meanwhile, near-death Atlantic City casino operator Trump Entertainment Resorts says it has resolved its outstanding obligations to its former online gambling partners Betfair and Ultimate Gaming.

Betfair had partnered with the Trump Plaza, which shut down Sept. 16, forcing Betfair to play gypsy for a while before finding a new forever home with the Golden Nugget. Betfair claimed Trump Entertainment had not responded to demands for “the release of certain funds” Betfair claimed to be owed.

Ultimate Gaming had partnered with the Trump Taj Mahal but Ultimate withdrew from the New Jersey market in September after accusing Trump Entertainment of material breaches of their contract. Ultimate Gaming said Trump Entertainment hadn’t paid monies owed for two months, resulting in a liability of $1.5m.

In documents filed on Thursday, Trump Entertainment said it had reached a settlement that allowed Betfair to retain ownership of its customer data. Betfair will also be allowed to use data jointly owned with the Plaza for its own commercial purposes. Betfair still has an unsecured claim for $700k that will have to wait to see how the Trump Entertainment bankruptcy situation plays out.

Trump Entertainment said the deals would allow it to access $1.4m that it desperately needs to keep the Taj Mahal’s lights on. The Taj is scheduled to close on Dec. 12 unless the company can convince its unionized workers to drop their appeal of a court order voiding their health and pension benefits. Carl Icahn, who holds the bulk of Trump Entertainment’s debts, approved of Thursday’s settlements.


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