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NJ DGE Wallops Online Gaming Firms: $150K+ in Fines

Map of NJ

The Garden State may sound like quite the welcoming nickname for New Jersey, but some of the gambling operators in action there, including online poker sites, may not have that same opinion of it right now. That’s because the Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) has handed out a whole bunch of fines to a large number of them for their shortcomings with the largest being a $100,000 fine against well-known software developer Nyx Digital Gaming. Several other big-name brands have been included in the list of fined companies in New Jersey for a total of more than $150,000 in penalties issued. These judgments were reached during the period Nov. 16 - 30, 2019.

New Jersey Department of Gaming Enforcement Fines

Nyx Suffers Under Two Penalties

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There were several companies and developers mentioned as being on the receiving end of fines by the DGE, but Nyx Digital Gaming was the one to suffer the largest penalty. This came from two separate infringements, with the first being a massive $100,000 fine for operating unapproved software within New Jersey.

According to the documentation, Nyx had deployed versions of three separate games that were said to not be the versions that had been tested and approved by the DGE. This, it said, violated the Casino Control Act as well as the New Jersey Administrative Code (NJAC) 13:69E-1.20(a)1 and 13:69D-2.3(f)2. The former of these states that:

No gaming equipment or any related device or software that has been tested and approved by the Division shall be used in a casino facility unless it is identical in all mechanical, electrical, electronic or other aspects to a prototype thereof that has been reviewed and approved for use by the Division.

Meanwhile, the 13:69D-2.3(f)2 part of the NJAC states:

Prior to the installation, change, or upgrade of controlled hardware and software, the casino licensee shall ensure that the Division is provided with Release Notes three business days in advance…

Nyx Receives Secondary Fine for Regulatory Violations

It’s bad enough having one fine handed out to you, but Nyx received an additional fine of $10,000 for what the DGE labelled as Regulatory Violations. This points out numerous sections of the NJAC that Nyx was in violation of, including Section 13:69A-7.2 – the Duty to disclose and cooperate.

With these two fines combined, Nyx will be handing over a full penalty of $110,000 to the DGE. The fines were handed out to Nyx Digital Gaming (USA) and Nyx Digital Gaming (Americas), which together come under the umbrella of the SG Digital company.

DGE Not a Rubber-Stamp Authority

Caution Sign

This isn’t the first time that such a hefty fine has been handed out by the DGE either. Most of the targets of the DGE's enforcement activities are its licensed operators whose activities it observes very closely indeed.

Division of Gaming Enforcement LogoNew Jersey's Division of Gaming Enforcement Is Part of the Attorney General's Office

However, the DGE has been known to expand its reach every once in a while, like when it directed its angst toward an individual poker player – California’s Vinh Dao – who had won five figures by circumventing strict geolocation protocols to illicitly access the NJ online gaming sites from his home state. The Division also goes after offshore brands that are transacting in New Jersey and thereby, in the DGE's eyes, violating the law.

Other Companies Come Up Short with DGE

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It wasn’t just Nyx that found itself being chastised by the DGE but a selection of other companies within the gambling industry too. William Hill, for example, was issued a $26,500 fine for self-exclusion violations. According to the official document, the William Hill brand allowed 16 patrons, who had self-excluded, to place wagers online via its site. At the same time, a further $5,036 forfeiture of funds was dished out to the same brand, which is money theoretically owed by it to prohibited persons.

As well as this, software developer GAN had a $1,000 fine imposed on it for certain software issues. This, the DGE said, was due to the company failing to ensure adequate website performance. The official document states that GAN agreed to pay that proposed penalty on Oct. 29, 2019.

PokerStars had a $5,000 fine imposed too for the violation of data retention rules. According to the official document, PokerStars lost approximately two hours’ worth of poker hand history data, which violated the NJSA Section 5:12-1.

Finally, three separate fines were given to the iGaming Cloud company: one of $2,000 for operating unapproved software and revenue reporting violations, another of the same value for violations of rules regarding release notes and data loss, and finally, a civil penalty of $7,000 for self-exclusion violations.

Two land-based casinos in Atlantic City – Caesars and Bally’s – were also ordered to forfeit sums of money that the DGE found to be theoretically owed to prohibited persons.

Many Firms Fined by the DGEThe List of Entities Fined Reads Like a Who's Who of NJ Gaming

New Jersey’s Tough Gambling Market

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Clearly, operators and software providers alike need to be careful when it comes to entering into new gambling markets especially New Jersey. The licensing and regulations within are at a strict level ostensibly to keep its players safe and secure. This is why it’s important for companies to ensure that they’re adhering to all rules surrounding their operations.

New Jersey has been providing legal online poker and casino gaming for several years now, making it one of the more interesting states in the eyes of online gaming concerns. The appeal of entering into the New Jersey gambling market is likely quite large for both developers and operators.

However, because of the severe licensing and regulatory rules in action, there’s also the potential for those companies to turn away from the scene – at least for the moment. The harder it is to not only obtain a license but also remain completely in line with regulations, the more likely it is that organizations will take a pass on New Jersey.

As things stand at the moment within The Garden State, there isn’t a huge number of licensed online platforms providing their services to residents particularly as regards poker. Naturally, if the DGE is adamant on continuing to hand out fines to gambling sites and software providers for minor infractions as it has been doing over the past few years, the likelihood is that this number won’t grow exponentially any time soon either. It was only in April of this year that the DGE fined PokerStars for accepting sports bets on prohibited contests.

Because there aren’t so many operators in action within New Jersey, traffic at poker rooms and the like is also on the lower end of the scale. It has entered into an interstate poker network with Nevada and Delaware although this isn’t really proving to be of much benefit when it comes to increasing traffic numbers.

i-Gaming Compact StatesThree States Belong to an Online Poker Liquidity-Sharing Protocol

Accessing Online New Jersey Poker

Poker Hole Cards

Should you reside in New Jersey and wish to participate in legal online poker, then we have various recommendations of sites that provide such. Despite the protestations of the Division of Gaming Enforcement, there's nothing stopping you from signing up at the room of your choice be it state-licensed or otherwise. Check out our thorough guide to playing online poker in New Jersey for additional info.

If you're a resident of some other state in the country, then our recommendations as to the best internet poker sites for Americans may interest you instead.