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Online Poker Business: Thirty Seven Firms Apply For New Jersey Web Gambling

Names Won't Be Disclosed Until They Are Approved By Regulators

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Online gambling, including poker, in the Garden State had a significant milestone this week, as it was announced that 37 firms have submitted applications to be involved with the new activity.

New Jersey legalized online poker earlier this year after failed attempts in previous years. Online gambling will kick off in the state in late November.

“We see this as the first round of filings and we expect that more applications will be filed as the start of Internet gaming moves closer,” the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement said in a statement. “The July 29th deadline does not preclude someone from filing for a license in the future. All proposals will be considered as they are received.”

The names on the list won’t be disclosed until once they are approved.

Under the law, only companies that own a brick-and-mortar casino will be allowed to run the games, but all of the city’s 12 properties reportedly will not use in-house software, but instead partner with existing Internet gambling providers, such as a PokerStars, which inked a deal with a casino just recently. Developing in-house software is notoriously challenging.

PokerStars had tried to buy a casino, but that plan fell through due to licensing concerns. Firms like PokerStars would still need to be approved by the state, but the scrutiny for software providers would not be as tough as those for firms holding a license to offer brick-and-mortar gambling. For an offshore-based Internet poker firm like PokerStars, buying a casino would be a very intense licensing process. New Jersey is known for being especially tough.

Last year, PokerStars settled with the United States government in connection with the Black Friday indictments in April of 2011. The firm didn’t admit to any wrongdoing.

In addition to New Jersey, both Nevada and Delaware have legalized online betting, but others, like California, are expected. Nevada kicked off its industry this spring when Ultimate Poker dealt the first regulated real-money hand of online poker in United States history. Delaware has not seen any real-money gambling yet, and it’s unclear precisely when that will begin.

According to the Associated Press, only the 37 firms that applied by Monday’s deadline in New Jersey will be up for consideration in time to possibly offer games later this year. Like Nevada’s licensing process, firms can always express interest at a later point in time. However, the line to get approved might be long, as the process is slow.

In addition to PokerStars, London-based 2UP Gaming has expressed interest to either purchase a casino or build a brand new one in order to have the chance to operate Internet gambling from New Jersey. Other industry heavyweights itching to get in include Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment, which has partnered with the Borgata, 888 Holdings, which has reached a partnership with Caesars Entertainment Corp., and Nevada-based Ultimate Gaming, which will do business with the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort.

Right now, any web gambling based in New Jersey would be limited to those within the state. However, New Jersey has plans to offer it elsewhere once all those hurdles are cleared. Thus, obtaining an online gambling license in New Jersey could be the key to eventually offering games across the United States, once other jurisdictions authorize the activity.

For more news from New Jersey, check out its state page.