Poker To Be a Big Part of NJ Internet Gambling
Ever since New Jersey legalized Internet gambling in February, poker was expected to be a big part of it.
Now an Internet gambling company that runs a nationally known play-in-person poker tournament is bringing its championship to Atlantic City, creating one of the many hoped-for marriages between online gambling firms and brick-and-mortar casinos.
The World Poker Tour's season-ending championship will be held at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in April. The tour's parent company, bwin.party, is the firm the Borgata is partnering with to offer Internet gambling once it starts, perhaps as soon as late November.
Adam Pliska, the World Poker Tour president, says New Jersey's online market shows great potential, and already has a poker scene primed for further growth.
"It's evidence of what is happening in poker," he said.
John Shepherd, a spokesman for bwin.party, said online poker can help brick and mortar casinos fill up their poker rooms and casino floors.
The World Poker Tour Borgata Poker Open is underway now, with a prize pool of nearly $4 million.
"I came in here Monday night and there were 1,200 people playing poker," he said.
The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement still has the end of November as its target date to launch Internet gambling in the state. But it recently wrote to one or more casinos saying their applications remain incomplete and asking for the relevant data to be filed by Friday.
Shepherd said bwin.party has been preparing since 2010 for online gambling in the United States, and is working hard on its server room at the Borgata. At any given time, as many as 200 of the company's 1,700 software engineers worldwide could be working on the Atlantic City project, he said.
Other casinos have also lined up online partners and are making similar arrangements.
The Tropicana Casino and Resort has joined with Gamesys Limited, which runs the jackpotjoy.com website. The four casinos owned by Caesars Entertainment — Caesars Atlantic City, Bally's Atlantic City, Harrah's Resorts Atlantic City and the Showboat Casino Hotel — are partnering with 888 Holdings.
Resorts Casino Hotel has joined with PokerStars, the world's largest poker website that had tried to buy the Atlantic Club earlier this year before the deal fell apart.
The Taj Mahal Casino Resort chose Ultimate Gaming, which began offering Internet gambling in Nevada earlier this year. Trump Plaza is widely reported to have chosen Betfair, the British online gambling firm, although neither the casino nor the company would comment.
The Golden Nugget Atlantic City is offering its own brand of Internet gambling using Bally Technologies.
Revel Casino Hotel and The Atlantic Club casino Hotel have not divulged their online gambling plans.
New Jersey regulators have since dropped a requirement that Internet gamblers show up in person at an Atlantic City casino to create their accounts and deposit funds into them, according to Lisa Spengler, a spokeswoman for the gambling enforcement division.