Record-breaking fine levied
New Jersey gaming regulators have fined PokerStars $10,000 (£7,719), a record fine for a sports betting operator in the state. The violation was for allegedly accepting wagers on sports events involving New Jersey colleges.
The Stars Group, which is the parent company of PokerStars, was fined by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement on April 12 for two separate violations.
Since the federal ban on sports betting came to an end in May 2018, this is the biggest fine for a sports betting operator holding a local license in the country.
According to the Division of Gaming Enforcement, the sportsbook accepted 217 bets on prohibited games in 2018. This included 216 bets made for a November 19 men’s basketball game between Rutgers University and Eastern Michigan University. Rutgers is New Jersey’s state university.
A single bet was accepted on another college basketball game, between the University of Pennsylvania and Monmouth University, on December 31.
By state law, sportsbooks cannot offer betting on games involving a college from the state or taking place inside New Jersey. This is the only state that has this provision but others will likely follow suit if they legalize sports betting in 2019.
Fallout from these violations
The first complaint was filed on December 28, 2018, and the second complaint was filed on January 30 of this year. The bets on these two events were voided. Funds were returned to the bettors before the Division of Gaming Enforcement ruling.
The company issued a statement saying that the violations were as a result of a “manual gating error from its international games into New Jersey.”
The Stars Group is working with the regulator to ensure that the same thing does not happen again in the future.
PokerStars operates its sportsbook through the Resorts Casino and Hotel in Atlantic City. The BetStarsNJ sportsbook went live in September 2018, shortly after sports betting became legal in the state in June.
They are looking to cash in on the success of legal sports betting in New Jersey. Over 80% of all sports bets in the region come through online sportsbooks.
PokerStars has had trouble in the past
This is not PokerStars’ first brush with gaming authorities in the United States.
The company had to pay civil charges of $731m (£565m) to the US government as the result of a civil case in 2012. This was due to the online poker company using fraudulent methods of payment processing and not adhering to the US ban on online gambling.
The US government shutdown of online gambling came in April 2011. While most of the online poker operators shut down their platforms, others stayed open to serve their customers.
As part of the civil agreement, PokerStars acquired an old rival, Full Tilt Poker, which had been shut down by the US government.
PokerStars is still the largest online poker operation in the world, with more than 60% of the total market.
The company is now focusing on expansion into growing markets, such as launching a platform in India during 2018. That year, they also unveiled their PokerStars VR platform, which is a virtual reality poker platform that is fully immersive.
PokerStars is also looking to take part in the sports betting revolution in the US. In addition to a presence in New Jersey, they have a partnership with the Mount Airy Casino in Pennsylvania. Under that agreement, PokerStars will provide Mount Airy’s online casino, poker, and sports betting offerings.