New Jersey's iGaming "Soft Launch" Two Weeks Away; Companies Prepare for Liftoff
New Jersey's "soft launch" of real-money online gambling is two weeks away, and we're beginning to get an idea of which operators will be ready to go live when the legal and regulated market opens on Nov. 26.
So far, five of the 12 operators in Atlantic City have been awarded licenses. Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, NJ received the state's first Internet gambling permit on Oct. 9. Golden Nugget Atlantic City, Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort, Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino, and Tropicana Casino and Resort have since been awarded permits.
Tropicana was the fifth casino to receive a license late last month, and it wasted no time in launching a "Pre-Opening" event at Tropicana.net. The casino announced this week that selected registrants will be eligible to participate in Tropicana's real-money trial period from Nov. 21-25 ahead of the state's official launch on Nov. 26. Tropicana's online software will be run by European online gambling company Gamesys.
Likewise, Borgata (BorgataPoker.com and BorgataCasino.com), Betfair (LetsPlayNJ.com) and Ultimate Casino (UCasino.com) have launched domains in anticipation of the launch.
Two industry giants are still awaiting license approval from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE). Caesars Entertainment owns four properties and has partnered with 888 Holdings for its New Jersey Web gaming operation, one that projects to be a leader in the market. The other establishment awaiting a permit is Resorts Casino Hotel, which has teamed up with global online poker leader PokerStars.
New Jersey's other two brick-and-mortar casinos, Revel Casino Hotel and The Atlantic Club Casino Hotel, have not revealed any plans to enter the iGaming space. Both properties filed for protection bankruptcy this year; the Atlantic Club filed Chapter 11 this week despite being bailed out by PokerStars in an ugly iGaming deal-gone-wrong. PokerStars intended to purchase the casino for $15 million, and after paying $11 million to the casino, the Atlantic Club backed out of the deal, claiming it was worth much more. PokerStars filed for damages to recoup its investment, and the case is still pending.
The aforementioned brick-and-mortar establishments aren't the only companies eager to enter to emerging Web gambling market. Last week, the DGE released a list of 54 ancillary companies and related vendors who were given the green light to enter agreements with online gaming operators. Among the services these business-to-business companies provide include payment processing and geolocation verification. With strict limitations and regulations set in place by the DGE, these companies will provide services designed to ensure that the necessary requirements are met by operators.
But even though dozens of companies have received the go-ahead by gaming officials, the industry is awaiting approval for technology partners like PokerStars, bwin.party, and 888 Holdings. Those three gaming leaders will each play a crucial role in the state's success. We're likely to find out in the next few days if they will be ready to go by Nov. 26.
We'll have much more on New Jersey's iGaming launch in the weeks ahead. Get all the latest PokerNews updates on your social media outlets. Follow us on Twitter and find us on both Facebook and Google+!