THE FIGHT: Transactional Waivers Signal Home Stretch for NJ iGaming

This is the week. According to New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement Director David Rebuck, this is the week when the picture of who will be ready on November 26 to go live with online gaming in New Jersey will start to come into focus.

To date, five of New Jersey’s 12 casinos have been licensed for online gaming: Borgata, Golden Nugget, Tropicana, Trump Plaza and Trump Taj Mahal. Noticeably absent from that list are Resorts (with whom PokerStars is partnered) and any of the four Caesars properties.

An additional 54 companies have been approved to provide ancillary services that support i-gaming – things like geo-restriction, player verification, payment processing and affiliate marketing. Noticeably absent from this secondary list are any of the primary technology partners like PokerStars, bwin.party, 888 and Amaya Gaming.

New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement Director David Rebuck

New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement Director David Rebuck

Rebuck told Marco Valerio of OnlinePokerReport that this would be the week when technology partners that aim to launch on November 26 would apply for “transactional waivers” to allow them to go live while their license applications continue to be investigated. Rebuck suggested that the threshold for issuing a transactional waiver is high and that few transactional waivers are subsequently reversed once DGE’s investigation of a license applicant is finalized.

Reports have begun to trickle in this morning that, indeed, the technology partners have all filed petitions for transactional waivers. This sets up the New Jersey online gaming market for the final push to its November 26 launch with two critical questions.

Will Caesars and Resorts receive their Internet Gaming Permits in time? And will all of the technology partners be approved for transactional waivers?

That we’re even talking about the first question is surprising. Borgata received the first Internet Gaming Permit on October 10. Inside of a week, DGE issued three more permits, to Golden Nugget, Trump Plaza and Trump Taj Mahal. Tropicana followed four days later.

Since then DGE hasn’t issued any other permits, leaving Resorts and Caesars on the outside looking in, along with the teetering-on-the-edge-of-bankruptcy Atlantic Club and Revel, two properties that did not file applications for permits. The transactional waiver process doesn’t seem to apply to applications for primary Internet Gaming Permits, meaning that the Caesars-888-Amaya partnership and the Resorts-PokerStars-Full Tilt Gaming partnership can’t move forward until the casino properties’ license applications are approved.

Even if we assume that Resorts and one or more Caesars properties are licensed this week, the question remains whether transactional waivers will be granted for all primary technology partners. Isai Scheinberg, former head of Rational Group, was charged criminally as part of the Black Friday case. Those charges were never resolved, though Scheinberg agreed to step down from all operational roles at Rational Group as a condition of the company’s federal settlement of the Black Friday civil case.

Scheinberg’s son Mark was appointed Chairman. DGE could raise a legitimate question regarding the amount of influence the elder Scheinberg retains at Rational with his son helming the privately-owned company.  New Jersey rules do not permit transactional waivers to be granted when there are “pending charges in the jurisdiction of… any person who is required to be qualified” as a condition of the license.

Similar questions could dog Norbert Teufelberger, CEO at bwin.party, where two founding shareholders chose to divest their shares last week rather than undergo DGE licensing scrutiny; Mitch Garber, CEO at Caesars Interactive; and Paul Leggett, Head of Online Gaming at Amaya Gaming. The good money is on transactional waivers being granted in all of these cases, but Caesars’ recent smackdown by Massachusetts regulators because of (among other things) Garber introduces the shadow of a doubt to the process.

Three weeks until cards are in the air.

The following two tabs change content below.

Kevin McGrady

Legislative and Politics Beat Writer: Kevin McGrady practiced corporate law in New York City for eight years before moving to Las Vegas in 2008 to join the gaming industry. Kevin is a graduate of New York University and Columbia University School of Law.
Comments
Bluff.com News Contributors

Related News Stories