When the Rational Group attempted to purchase the Atlantic Club Casino in an effort to enter the New Jersey poker market several casinos as well as trade groups including the American Gaming Association cried foul, arguing that no company that catered to the U.S. market after the passing of the UIGEA should be allowed to sell their product stateside. Their cries seemed to be heard as the Atlantic Club reneged on the sale and the Rational Group has been on an uphill climb since attempting to get back into the market. The Rational Group eventually set up a partnership with the Resorts Casino Hotel but to date a license hasn’t been granted to them and rumor has it that the “bad actor” clause, which was passed in Nevada, may soon be announced by the Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) in New Jersey as well which will shut out the Rational Group from applying for a New Jersey license either as an owner or partner for 10 years. If that occurs, the Resorts Casino Hotel will have to find another partner. Bwin.Party, which has partnered with Borgata, and 888 Holdings which has partnered with Caesars also offered their products at one time to the American market but they have been excused for “their crimes” after paying a fine and withdrawing from the U.S. market immediately after the passing of the UIGEA.
The one company that has applied for a license and has many a bit upset, however, is Betfair. The U.K. sporting exchange giant and the owner of the TVG horse racing network has partnered with Trump Plaza to offer online poker and likely casino games as well. While the partnership has never been confirmed officially by Betfair or Trump, Betfair has already begun acting like it’s a done deal. In fact Betfair even went ahead and launched letsplaynj.com and betfairnj.com before even getting the go ahead from the DGE. The websites are effectively a sneaky way to build up a database by allowing New Jersey residents to leave their names and email addresses after answering a few questions and in return they are given a chance to win prizes including an all expenses paid trip to London.
But not everyone is happy about Betfair entering the market including a lawyer for a major sports league who I made contact with a few years back who doesn’t believe that Betfair has any business entering the U.S. market for any “real” gambling since their products are all about sports betting.
“If Betfair wants to offer horse racing then that’s their business but with real gambling it should be limited to American casino companies that have never attempted to offer sports betting outside of Nevada. Sports betting is a plague in the U.S. and the last thing we want is a company that we know will be petitioning to offer sports betting in America from gaining any type of real presence. I can only speak for myself but I’m sure my colleagues would agree.”
Ironically when I asked if I could use his name in this article he answered “not now but that may change shortly,” which seemed a bit odd since one would think that he would want his viewpoints known publicly. Nevertheless I agreed to his request.
But it appears that some Atlantic City casino owners are also unhappy about Betfair entering the market and are attempting to block their entry by petitioning the Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) from agreeing to the Trump/Betfair license. I spoke to one casino manager who was adamant that personally he wanted to see Bwin.Party, 888 Holdings and even Gamesys blocked from getting a license in New Jersey because they are foreigners but he realized that only Betfair has a chance of being stopped at this point since the DGE already agreed to the Borgata/Bwin.Party partnership and that Caesars is too powerful to block their partnership but he believes Betfair is still in play because it is still known as a predominantly sports betting company. Nevertheless he is leaving it up to the lobbyists to take up the cause.
“As far as I’m concerned the New Jersey market should be opened to American companies only and I have a real issue with casinos that are partnering with foreign businesses,” he told me. “But at the same time the casinos have to tread gently. We realize the issue is a sensitive manner because it also involves free trade but I’m confident that in the end New Jersey residents will shop American and play with the 100% American labeled companies.”
Like the lawyer from the sports league he also said he didn’t want his name used right now for fear it could be held against him in his company’s quest to get a New Jersey license if he is seen to be challenging the DGE publicly.
I tried to contact someone from the AGA and someone from the DGE for a comment but never received a reply from either.
Online gambling starts November 26 in New Jersey. Hopefully, NJ residents get to play with the best and brightest Internet wagering companies.