New Jersey: Best in The World
In an exclusive interview one-on-one interview with Diamond Flush Poker, David Rebuck, the Director of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement talked openly about where New Jersey can fit into the i-gaming arena, how preparation for launch is progressing, obstacles that are part of the mix and what he expects to happen down the line. I found him to be open to the questions, candid with his answers and committed to providing the tools necessary for internet gaming to be a success in Atlantic City. I was particularly impressed with his goal: “In short time, New Jersey will have not only the best system in the country, but in the world.” He’s not a man willing to settle for second place, his commitment is clear.
The Wire Act Opinion: “It was a Sign”
“We were preparing well before the law was passed” said Rebuck. The DGE posted a draft of proposed regulations for internet gaming on June 3, barely 3 months after the bill was signed into law. “We were working on developing regulations and standards for some time, just in case.” The turning point for Rebuck was the Department of Justice’s legal opinion regarding the Wire Act. In December 2011, The Office of Legal Counsel for D.O.J. made public their opinion that the Wire Act of 1960 referred only to sporting contests, not poker or other gaming. According to Rebuck, “we knew that this had a significant impact on interstate play in the U.S., we used it as a signal to plan on moving forward, and we did. Other jurisdictions and casino operators should have been preparing as well. It was a sign of what was coming.”
Launching in November? YES!
When the bill was signed by Governor Christie in February this year, it included a stipulation that internet gaming “go live” in the state between three and nine months after enactment, making the outside deadline November 26, 2013. Critics have been public with their doubts that it’s even possible. The statute requires that the Division must give at least forty-five days notice preceding the expected launch date. If an extension is needed, the DGE would be required to ask the Casino Control Commission for permission for an extension. According to Rebuck, an extension shouldn’t be necessary. “We expect to make that deadline” he said. “We know we have a very aggressive timeline, especially compared to other jurisdictions, but we are working hard to make sure it happens”. In keeping with the aggressive timetable Rebuck admits “we’ve made significant demands on the casinos in order to help make a November launch, but they have all come through.” Rebuck issued a directive for casinos to advise their intentions to plan on offering internet gaming by June 30,2013 and then for the casinos and everyone else associated with their i-gaming plans, partners, affiliates, service providers etc, to apply for licensing by July 29, 2013. We know that at least 37 license applications made the deadline. Others can follow of course, but those supplying their information before July 29, if approved, will be eligible to launch their i-gaming in the first wave in November this year.
New Exciting Things Coming to New Jersey Casinos
“We are committed to providing the casinos with as many tools for success as possible” said Rebuck. There are five such tools in the pipeline now:
1. Sports betting – In the courts now as NJ fights an old law that prohibits states other than Nevada to take part.
2. Internet Gaming – Applications for first approval now being reviewed. Launch expected by late November 2013.
3. Mobile gaming – already live in Atlantic City at Borgata Casino where guests can place wagers from their hotel rooms.
4. Fantasy Sports – Already approved in New Jersey.
5. Compacts with other jurisdictions for progressive slot play – Multi-state connected slot play (similar to powerball lottery), talks with several other states already happening.
“The northeast corridor is a very competitive market”, explains Rebuck, “we want to continue to give our casinos more tools for more success. Each of these categories helps them do that, if they wish to.”
Compacts with Other States?
Reciprocal agreements with other jurisdictions, increasing the player pools, are being considered, and that includes Nevada. Diamond Flush Poker can confirm that A.G. Burnett, Nevada Gaming Commission Director, did reach out to New Jersey regarding a compact, but Rebuck says “it’s just not the right time yet”. New Jersey law also allows for compacts with international jurisdictions for online gaming. The Division has been talking to other states and foreign jurisdictions for months, sharing ideas, and he hopes that continues.
Post Launch Expectations
“For internet gaming, we expect will may have to tweak some things in the period following our launches. That’s a good thing. We aren’t tied down to not looking to enhance the system moving forward. New geo-location techniques and biometrics are just some ideas we expect to be considering. We will be learning new things for a long time, and we are prepared to move forward with them. We will always be adapting and reacting”.
“Our aim is to run things in a professional way, a customer friendly way, and efficiently. In short time, we expect to be not only the best system in the United States for online gaming, but in the world” Rebuck said confidently.” We fully expect other states to be watching us and coming to us”.
The commitment of David Rebuck and the Division towards internet gaming and other new possibilities in Atlantic City is clear – success is the only possible outcome.