New Jersey Online Gambling Soft Launch Reveals a Few Problems

The first officially sanctioned and regulated online gambling in New Jersey took place last night starting at 6pm.  The Division of Gaming Enforcement began their soft launch for testing the approved platforms, although player participation is by invitation at this point.

Fifteen different online casino websites representing seven different casino companies are on the list of sites approved for testing during the soft launch.  When testing commenced last night, the launch was not without problems.  Hopefully the providers will be addressing these issues leading up to the planned full launch of the sites next Tuesday.

Geolocation Issues

The technology used to insure that online gambling patrons are physically located inside the state of New Jersey was in some cases overly strict, and several potential players found that their locations inside the state were incorrectly identified as being in a neighboring state..

Earlier this week there were several news stories about the technology providers setting up a buffer zone near the state’s borders to prevent gamblers in nearby states from participating.  Not surprisingly, these buffer zones sometimes extended 10 or 15 miles into the state, preventing legal customers from placing a bet.  Over time, border accuracy should be improved as the providers carefully deal with the exceptions.

Banking Issues

Despite the legalization of online gambling in three states so far (Nevada, Delaware, and now New Jersey), some banks and credit card issuers have indicated that they do not plan to allow gambling transactions on their cards at this time.  As of now, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, American Express, and PayPal are all widely reported as declining any gambling transactions on their products.  Both Visa and Mastercard have implemented codes that will allow their member banks to identify these transactions, but it is up to the banks whether they choose to participate.  Until the nascent industry in the US has a proven track record of preventing underage gambling and other illegal types of transactions, I expect the banking industry to move very cautiously in enabling these charges.  If all goes well, in the end I feel certain they will follow the money and these transactions will be widely available.

Website and Technical Glitches

As we’ve seen recently in the debacle, launching a new website can have technical issues.  Even though most of the New Jersey casinos have partnered with experienced online gambling platform providers, there will be a few problems to be ironed out.  When the first list of approved testing sites was published by the state, Golden Nugget was omitted from the list.  The issue was reportedly a minor reporting problem, which was quickly resolved.  Golden Nugget was added to the list later in the day, prior to the launch.

Sites from Borgata and Trump Taj Mahal also experienced minor technical issues after the launch, with potential gamblers receiving error messages instead.

The soft launch testing continues with a limited schedule through November 25th.