Flex along N.J. borders seen as boost to online gambling

An online slots game.
An online slots game. (WAYNE PARRY / AP)
Posted: March 09, 2014

New Jersey Internet gambling regulators have eased the parameters used to determine that an online gambler is actually in the state, Brian Mattingley, chief executive of 888 Holdings P.L.C., said Friday.

"By allowing us a little bit more flexibility and easing the tolerance in that distance, it made it significantly better in the second and third month," said Mattingley, whose London-based company has a partnership with Caesars Interactive in Atlantic City.

The issue is the buffer between the state line and a gambler's location, which is determined using cellphone signals. To ensure that a gambler was on the Camden side of the Delaware River rather than the Philadelphia side, an undefined buffer was required in the system to block people too close to the border. The process is called geolocation.

"We have worked with the geolocation vendors and casinos to enhance the technology to make it more accurate and reliable, and to reduce false negatives," said Kerry Langan, spokeswoman for the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement.

New Jersey gambling revenue for February is scheduled for release Wednesday. In January, gamblers lost $9.5 million on the Internet.

Fitch Ratings said Friday that it expected Internet gambling revenue to increase throughout this year, approaching a total of $200 million for the operators. That would be an average of $17.3 million from February through December.

Long-term, Fitch estimated that the New Jersey online gambling market was worth between $500 million and $700 million.

Mattingley said he had little hope that federal regulations will be adopted for Internet gambling. He said he thinks online gambling will spread state by state, as did brick-and-mortar casinos.

Pennsylvania is among the states often mentioned by analysts as likely adopters of Internet gambling. "We are in discussion with the regulator of Pennsylvania. I met with them a fortnight ago," Mattingley said on a January investors' conference call. A potential budget shortfall "will raise the interest in online gaming," he said.


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