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NJ’s Top Gaming Regulator Invites International Sportsbook Operators to Begin Licensing Process

New Jersey’s top gambling regulator has invited international sportsbook operators to get in on the ground floor should sports betting become legal in the Garden State.

David Rebuck – the longest serving director in the history of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE) – made the comments February 8 during the ICE Totally Gaming expo in London. With a roomful of representatives from established European, Asian, and Australian sports betting firms on hand, Rebuck instructed companies to begin the licensing process sooner rather than later:

“Don’t sit back and wait for the regulations. If you sit and wait you will be left behind.”

The regulations referenced by Rebuck would go into effect immediately after the U.S. Supreme Court rules on New Jersey’s ongoing challenge to federal sports betting prohibition. Voters and lawmakers alike have approved regulated sports betting in the state, with Governor Chris Christie also signing the bill into law, but a coalition of sports leagues sued to rebuff those reforms.

The resulting case, known as Christie v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, was heard in oral arguments before the Supreme Court last December.

Based on a consensus of legal analysis on those arguments, most observers believe the Supreme Court will find in New Jersey’s favor when their final ruling is rendered sometime this year. If so, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992 – a federal law which limits legal sports betting to just four states – would be effectively repealed.

Since the first voter-approved referendum to regulate sports betting was passed in 2011, New Jersey has been preparing for legalization to arrive. Those efforts include the construction of sports bars within brick and mortar casinos in Atlantic City, with the establishments designed to be converted into sportsbooks should the law change.

And as one of three states to offer regulated online gambling, along with Nevada and Delaware, New Jersey would also be poised to capitalize on the popularity of online sports betting.

Rebuck mentioned how online sportsbook operators would be required to follow the same procedures as casino and poker providers, which involves partnering with an existing gaming company already doing business in the state:

“That is completely different to the UK. So B2C operators and B2B suppliers will need to partner with casinos, racetracks or lotteries.

Even if you don’t have a partner, nothing stops you from submitting your application for a license to do sports wagering.”

Given the controversial history of online sportsbooks based offshore accepting action from American customers, Rebuck warned that so-called “rogue” operators will not be welcomed in his jurisdiction.

He also offered advice on how to effectively capitalize on the emerging marketplace for regulated sports betting in states like New Jersey:

“You need to convince operators and regulators that you are willing to commit to the US.

It is not just about flicking a switch and adding a new market to your existing market. That does not show commitment.

Most of you, from an integrity standpoint, will be able to get in the door now. And if you can’t, we will tell you you’re not going to make it.”

Rebuck’s bullish stance on a sports betting renaissance was contrasted by Susan Hensel, who serves as director of licensing for the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB). Speaking as part of the same panel discussion, Hensel revealed that Pennsylvania is not ready to accept sportsbook licensing applications just yet:

“There will be a patchwork of regulations. We are not going to have a federal system.

So where does the monitoring system sit? What standards will apply? And who is going to pay for it?”

Pennsylvania passed a comprehensive gambling expansion bill last year, one which included iGaming regulations along with additional brick and mortar casinos.