Author Jennifer Newell's poker week in review for Nov. 11-17.
Our consolidation of the week's news is quick and to the point — seven stories, to be exact — for the week ending Nov. 17. Let's go.
No. 1 — New Jersey to Begin Online Gaming with Timed Tests, No Bonuses
More information was revealed this week about New Jersey online gaming, courtesy of its Division of Gaming Enforcement. The soft launch of online gaming is still set for Nov. 21 for sites that have received approval to do so. They will be required to start with eight-hour tests on the first two days, followed by a 14-hour testing on Nov. 23, and finally 24 hours of testing over the course of Nov. 24-25. Officials will monitor the activities for their ability to process payments, verify customer identification, and perform proper geolocation verification. If problems are overwhelming, the DGE may delay the official hard launch of online gaming for the public beyond the scheduled Nov. 26 date.
The DGE also released information regarding bonus and promotion rules, such as cashout restrictions, wagering requirements, and the need for very clear terms and conditions on each online gaming site. But promotions of any kind will be prohibited for the first 30 days of online gaming activity. Each operator is required to demonstrate the ability to generate accurate revenue reports before being given the authority to offer bonuses and promotions after that period of time elapses.
No. 2 — New Jersey Residents Lack Awareness of Online Gaming
A survey conducted by Poker Affiliate Solutions reveals that many people are unaware or unfamiliar with information regarding the upcoming launch of online gaming in the state of New Jersey. The survey asked two questions of approximately 500 people thus far, and the results were summarized by Pokerfuse.
The first question asked about familiarity with the plan in general, and 46.6 percent were "not very familiar," with most of those coming from the 18-24 age range. The second question asked about the likelihood that people would play real-money poker or casino games via the New Jersey online sites. Only eight percent responded that they would definitely play and were in the 25-44 age range, while 7.2 percent said less likely, and 13.4 percent somewhere in between. More men responded positively to both questions than women.
No. 3 — Adelson Ready to Attack Online Gambling
The Washington Post reported this weekend that Las Vegas Sands owner and casino giant Sheldon Adelson is ready to ramp up his fight against online gambling. He has made no secret of his disdain for the industry in the past, but he is now reportedly coordinating a public campaign to outlaw it in the United States. The campaign will involve portraying online gaming as detrimental to children and poor people, as well as others who can easily be exploited by Internet gambling.
Adelson has started to hire a team of lobbyists and public relations experts, according to the article, who will push his views in Washington, D.C., and in various state capitals. He will also launch an advocacy group in January called the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling, for which he plans to recruit women, African Americans, and Hispanics who might support his cause.
No. 4 — Credit Card Issuers May Reject Online Gambling
Bloomberg reported this weekend that several major credit-card issuers, such as Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and American Express, as well as payment processor PayPal, will not allow online gambling transactions from United States customers. The issue is coming to light due to more players trying to use those credit cards and payment options for online poker in Nevada, online gaming in Delaware, and soon in New Jersey.
The companies are fearful of being responsible for gambling transactions, as they are concerned with the possibility of being held liable for underage wagering or any type of illegal gambling practices. While there is the potential for revenue as the American online gaming industry grows, some credit-card issuers are not prepared to accept the responsibility that comes with it unless federal law outlines some protections.
No. 5 — Delaware Experiences Initial Online Gaming Glitches
After the first week of live real-money online gambling for the state of Delaware, the number of players remains low. PokerScout numbers never showed more than 35 players on the poker sites at any given time during that week. No numbers have yet been reported for casino-game players.
Some of the players have taken to the 2+2 online poker forums to complain about problems with geolocation verification, especially with Verizon FiOS. Players also complained that they were unable to run the client if any "remote programs" were also running on their computers, which is a regulatory requirement but not clear to players. Others have mentioned that deposits have been difficult because some credit-card issuers have decided to deny online gambling transactions.
No. 6 — U.S. Internet Gaming Tax Bill Introduced
The end of the week brought a new development with regard to federal online poker in the United States. Representative Jim McDermott, a Democrat from Washington State, filed the Internet Gambling Regulation and Tax Enforcement Act of 2013, which will act as a companion bill to one introduced Rep. Peter King (Republican from New York) earlier this year called the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act of 2013. King's bill sought to establish a regulatory framework for Internet gambling, while McDermott's piece of legislation puts forth a tax system to accompany that framework.
The tax bill seeks to set up a deposit-based tax on operators rather than a typical system based on gross gaming revenues. Operators of online gaming sites would owe a 12 percent flat tax on deposits from players, with 4 percent of that revenue going to the federal government and the remainder set aside for states or tribal entities. The Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative supports the proposal and urges Congress to enact the two bills in order to generate new revenue and create jobs.
No. 7 — Promising Advancement of New Jersey Gambling Hub Bill
A New Jersey bill in the state legislature could pave the way for Atlantic City to become a hub for many online gaming sites. The piece of legislation will allow Internet gambling equipment to be stored outside of Atlantic City casinos, though still under the control of the licensee or its affiliate. This will allow for the opportunity for Atlantic City to host equipment for other states, as well, pending interstate online gaming agreements.
The bill received its first movement forward since its introduction, as the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee approved the legislation, which sends it directly to the full Senate for debate or action.