New Jersey gaming regulators are hoping to increase player traffic on the state’s online poker sites by finalizing a rule that allows those sites to use celebrities to play online poker against NJ residents and tourists.
The Division of Gaming Enforcement has proposed a rule to that effect and is seeking input from the public during a 60-day comment period that expires on February 5, 2016. Should the rule become finalized, online poker players in the Garden State may find themselves seated amongst star players in 2016.
In part, the rule seeks to “allow Internet gaming operators to utilize celebrity or other players to participate in peer to peer games for advertising or publicity purposes, and allows such players to have their accounts funded in whole or in part by an Internet gaming operator.” The poker sites would likely pay the celebrities a fee for their services, and whether or not winnings may be kept by the star players would be worked out between the site operators and their celebrity partners.
Marketing Budgets to Increase?
The marketing strategies of the poker rooms in New Jersey have been the subject of numerous discussions since launching in late 2013, with some observers suggesting that more could be done to attract players. However, the ring-fenced nature of the state’s ipoker regime absent any interstate partnerships keeps the cap on available players closed rather tight.
Celebrity players may perhaps draw a bit more action to the tables at the four current New Jersey online poker sites of WSOP.com, 888Poker, BorgataPoker and Partypoker. Another poker room, PokerStars, will join the igaming party in the first half of 2016.
Two other rule changes have also been proposed by the DGE and the 60 days in which the public may comment on the plans coincides with that of the celebrity players proposal. Gaming regulators would like online gaming site operators to have the option of locating the servers used to operate the sites at other locations within Atlantic City, as well as permit online gamblers to use their funds for various social games where no payouts are offered.
Currently, servers used to power the gaming sites must be located “on the premises of the casino hotel” that is licensed to operate the sites. The new rule would permit the servers to be housed at another facility that is owned or leased by the casino licensee, provided that the public has no access to the area and it is within the borders of Atlantic City proper.
With regard to the social gaming proposal, online gamblers at New Jersey sites currently cannot use funds from their accounts on those sites in order to pay for certain game features on social gaming networks. The new rule would allow players to do so “provided that the operator provides a clear and conspicuous notice on the initial screen of any social game and in its terms and conditions that such social games are not regulated” by the DGE.