But in the past month, numerous four-figure fines have been handed out for a variety of errors – and the vast majority of them were handed out to brick-and-mortar casino companies.
For instance, DGE recently fined PokerStars $15,000 after discovering that 96 customers were able to place wagers without a proper geolocation check. Only those physically within New Jersey’s borders are allowed to play on New Jersey-approved gambling sites.
PokerStars also agreed to pay DGE $5,916.29 – the total amount of net profit that PokerStars had improperly collected from those 96 customers.
Barstool Sports accepted wagers in New Jersey on an NCAA men’s basketball game between St. Bonaventure and the University of Connecticut in December 2021. The non-conference game was held at a neutral site – the Prudential Center in Newark.
Under New Jersey law, no collegiate athletic events that take place in the state – and no college games involving New Jersey schools – are eligible to be wagered on anywhere in the state. A complaint was filed in March 2023, and DGE officials recently imposed a civil penalty of $8,000 for the transgression against Barstool and parent company Penn Sports Interactive.
In the “Director’s Actions and Orders” for June 1-15, nearly a dozen more four-figure fines were levied, six months after the agency had filed complaints against the gaming operators.
One was directed at Barstool Sports again – this time for $2,000 for “continuing to do business with a vendor that failed to submit a license application when required.”
More Big Fines
The largest single fine for that two-week period went against Caesars – which agree to pay $30,105.79 after acknowledging that the company had “confiscated [that amount] from 43 individuals who failed to produce adequate identification, abandoned certain assets, or were otherwise prohibited from engaging in gaming activity.”
Tropicana, meanwhile, ran into the same issue with 61 patrons and settled for a fine of $29,024.25 – while paying additional fines for other, lesser such violations of $4,992.55 and $1,086.44.
For the same violation, FanDuel turned over $19,025.50; Golden Nugget paid out $18,731.57; Ocean Casino turned over $11,774.27 and $6,118.78 in separate violations; Tropicana was fined $4,992.55; and Bally’s paid $2,035.50.
While Hard Rock casino avoided the fate of many of its competitors, the company did get hit with a $2,000 fine this month “via a Notice of Violation for violating regulations regarding rules of the game.” – no further explanation was provided by DGE.
The largest combined fine/forfeiture levied by New Jersey regulators came in March when SG Gaming paid out a civil penalty of $10,000 and turned over $90,718.84 in winnings it had collected from “self-excluded individuals.”
Also in March, Borgata forfeited $44,409.42 in winnings from three other “self-excluded individuals.”
Caesars Entertainment cost itself $43,500 in April after the agency found numerous violations that included employing “one individual with a revoked casino employee registration” and two others with “inactive casino employee registrations.”
DGE Director David Rebuck warned Caesars at that time that
“Any further violations of the above-referenced or other statutes and regulations by Caesars may result in additional regulatory action by the Division as appropriate under the circumstances.”
In that same filing period, Caesars also paid out $30.105.79 for the same violation of taking funds from customers
“who failed to produce adequate identification, abandoned certain assets, or were otherwise prohibited from engaging in gaming activity.”
New Steps Taken to Encourage Responsible Gambling
Given widespread failures by casino operators to meet state regulatory standards for ensuring that they do not do business with self-excluded gamblers, state officials have increased their focus on the issue.
On June 12, New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin announced a series of responsible gambling initiatives – including the creation of a video-conferencing option that will allow players to sign up for the state’s voluntary self-exclusion program “without having to leave their homes.”
“The increase of online gambling opportunities, access, and the amount of advertising has put many more people in New Jersey at risk for problem gambling,”
Felicia Grondin, executive director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey, said in a statement.
“These measures will help enforce and expand responsible gaming and will be bolstered with the establishment of a Responsible Gaming Coordinator.”
Another key step by DGE this month was enacting a prohibition on “dubious promises of ‘guaranteed wins’ or ‘risk-free’ bets if the patron will not be fully compensated for the loss of their funds.”
In those examples, a new customer might deposit $1,000 into an online sportsbook in NJ and gain a chance to win a “free bet” as an inducement. But if the bettor wins, they cannot immediately withdraw all $2,000. And if the bet loses, the new gambler might receive five $200 bets that must be made within a week.
Since only roughly $190 can be recouped with each bet, the customer who loses the “free bet” is certain to come out as a loser of a minimum of $50 and with a maximum loss of the entire original $1,000 stake – if the bettor is unlucky enough also to lose all five smaller bets.