With the dawn of online wagering in New Jersey fast approaching, Internet gambling companies have begun canvassing for players to try out their systems next week. The first players to test the state's burgeoning Internet gambling industry will get their chance during an eight-hour window Nov. 21. Players will be able to bet with real money, but play will be by invitation only. Regulators will be watching closely to see whether the companies meet the state's standards before the public launch expected Nov. 26. Representatives from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement will monitor transactions on the technology that's quietly undergone testing in New Jersey for months.
If regulators aren't satisfied with performance during the trial period, the division has the authority to extend the soft play period beyond Nov. 25 while additional testing is done, division spokeswoman Lisa Spengler said Wednesday.
Many pieces have to fall into place. Geolocation technology must ensure that all players are located within New Jersey's borders. Identity-verification systems must ensure that regulators know who is behind the computer or mobile device and determine that the player is of legal gambling age.
Locaid LLC, a Boca Raton, Fla.-based location services firm, is among the companies that will see its technology tested with live betting players next week. Locaid is the only company currently offering geolocation services in Nevada, where online gambling launched earlier this year.
"We've been testing for months in New Jersey. I can't comment on the process of what regulators have been doing in terms of testing, but this is really battle-tested technology," CEO Rip Gerber said.
During the five-day window, the DGE will also watch to make sure companies have adequate anti-money laundering systems in place, payment processing works correctly, and customer service functions are performed properly. All identity verification must be performed in the presence of a representative of the DGE, Spengler said.
"My staff will continually assess the progress of each platform provider before allowing them to open gaming to the general public on Nov. 26," division Director David Rebuck said. "The soft opening will be used to demonstrate to the division that all systems perform as required under the stress of live gaming and that operational and revenue reporting controls are effective."
Play will extend between 6 p.m. and 2 a.m. Nov. 21 and 22. On Nov. 23, play will begin at 8 a.m. and extend until midnight the following day. By Nov. 24 and 25, 24-hour play will be allowed.
Tobin Prior, CEO of Ultimate Gaming, which has partnered with Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort, said Wednesday that the company was told it can have no more than 500 concurrent players logged in during the trial period. Ultimate was the first company to launch Internet gambling in the United States with Ultimate Poker in Nevada earlier this year.
On Wednesday afternoon, the company issued a statement asking for players interested in being involved in the trial period to apply at UCasino.com. Those chosen will have between $5 and $500 deposited into accounts to be used during the trial.
Tom Breitling, Ultimate Gaming's chairman and founder, said the company recognizes that a new era of gambling means that innovation must meet regulation.
"Our No. 1 goal is to protect our players," Breitling said. "Both states have taken a very serious approach to this, which is what's needed. Obviously, we're looking at a much more intense situation in New Jersey because of the population, and we're spending a lot of time on that.
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