In the group’s 2013 full year results, bwin.party commended its successful launch into the regulated US market, but highlighted regulatory restrictions which are hampering the new market.
“While New Jersey has yet to reach its full potential because of geolocation and payment processing issues that are continuing to impact all operators, the Group has made a solid start in this newly regulated market,” reads the financial statement.
bwin.party was among the first to launch online gaming in the New Jersey market in November 2013. Under the partypoker New Jersey brand, it launched an online casino and online poker network. The network also houses Borgata Poker as a skin on the network.
The group in particular highlighted the success of its online poker launch as the largest in the New Jersey market. It currently represents approximately 40% cash game traffic, based on numbers of average concurrent seats filled, observed by independent monitor PokerScout.
As part of the stringent regulation in Nevada and New Jersey, operators must verify that the player is physically located within the state before allowing them to play real money poker. Operators use a combination of cell phone location and triangulation of wifi signals to pinpoint a customers location—but a significant number of legitimate players are erroneously locked out.
Operators, including bwin.party, have taken to sending free wifi “dongles” to players, which help many with verification issues. But the friction from so many false-positives will continue to hamper new player adoption if the technology does not improve—or regulations are relaxed.
In an interview earlier this week, the CEO of 888 Holdings, operator of a competing service in New Jersey, stated in an interview that the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) had eased restrictions on geo-location and responded “flexibly” to the problems.
A DGE spokesperson seemed to confirm the statement, stating that it was working with operators to “enhance the technology to make it more accurate and reliable, and to reduce false negatives.”
However, Eric Weiss, DGE’s Chief Of Technical Services, distanced himself from such comments in a public forum days later.
Payment processing is also still a bugbear, with credit card deposits on both Visa and Mastercard being rejected by some banks, despite both credit cards having acted proactively to permit legitimate online gambling deposits in the US. American Express still explicitly prohibits such transactions.
Operators also offer a myriad of other options, including check, wire transfer, and physical deposits at the cage in partner casinos. The rollout of third party systems NETELLER and Skrill should further ease processing friction.