On Monday, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJ-DGE) submitted several proposed changes to the state’s current internet and mobile gambling regulations. Two of the proposed amendments relate to server/equipment location and the merging of real money and social gambling content. The third proposal, however, deals with an operator’s ability to utilize celebrity promotions, which could be directly linked to the impending launch of PokerStars NJ.
After receiving long-awaited approval from the DGE in September to operate an online and mobile poker business in New Jersey, PokerStars officials said the site will be ready for launch in the first half of 2016. With the New Year only a few weeks away, regulators may be taking actions to accommodate the birth of PokerStars NJ by altering legislation to suit the operator’s existing platform.
Online and mobile poker operators have been known to sponsor celebrities, plastering their recognizable features across advertising creatives in an effort to draw more players into the site. None are so famous for this tactic then PokerStars, which has employed dozens of popular celebrities as poker pros Daniel Negreanu and Vanessa Selbst, tennis star Rafa Nadal, and soccer phenoms Neymar Jr and Cristiano Renaldo, just to name a few.
There’s no doubt a portion of PokerStars’ success over the years can be attributed to these celebrity endorsements. The DGE wants to see PokerStars flourish and thrive in New Jersey just as much as its parent company, Amaya Gaming does. Thus it would only make sense for regulators to pave for the way for PokerStars NJ to incorporate the same level of marketing in the US as they have internationally.
Celebrity Promotions for Internet/Mobile Poker
The proposed changes to internet and mobile gambling celebrity promotions, authorized by DGE Director David Rebuck, allows operator to pay celebrities to play internet poker, or to fund the accounts of celebrities as compensation for their gameplay.
According to the proposal, the intention of such changes would be to generate additional revenue by drawing more traffic to the operator’s website. The economic impact would be two fold, subsequently increasing revenue for the state.
Merger of Real Money and Social Gambling
The DGE also proposed that internet and mobile gambling operators should be allowed to offer social gambling alongside real money gambling. Currently, iGaming operators are only permitted to distribute games that are regulated by the DGE. Because payments are not required to participate in social games, they are not regulated, therefore cannot be offered by a site that promotes real money gambling in New Jersey.
If approved, the new rules would allow players to make payments for “certain game features” on social gaming platforms from their intent/mobile gambling account, “provided that the operator provides a clear and conspicuous notice on the initial screen of any social game and in its terms and conditions that such social games are not regulated by the Division.”
Changes to Server/Equipment Location Rules
This last proposal would have no effect on players, but would give licensees more leeway in setting up their internet and mobile gambling servers and gaming equipment, which could also help increase the operator’s bottom line. At the moment, all iGaming servers and relative equipment must be housed within the confines of a licensed casino in Atlantic City.
The proposal would allow servers and gaming equipment to be located at a separate facility, also within Atlantic City, so long as the location is owned or leased by the respective casino. The amendment further provides that the location must be “secure, inaccessible to the public, and specifically designed to house that equipment.”
Proposals Under Review, 60 Days to Comment
The proposals are currently under review by NJ Deputy Attorney General Robert Moncrief. The public has 60 days to provide comments on the proposed changes before they are ruled upon on February 5, 2016. Comments may be emailed to DAG Moncrief at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by conventional mail:
Robert Moncrief, Deputy Attorney General
Division of Gaming Enforcement
1300 Atlantic Avenue
Atlantic City, NJ 08401