Online Poker Report

New Jersey Online Gambling Soft Launch Lineup Revealed, Play Begins

NJ soft launch of online gambling

At 6pm on November 21st, New Jersey entered the first phase of the state’s plan to offer regulated online gambling to the general public: the so-called “soft launch” or “soft play” period.

We’ve assembled this guide, which will be updated throughout the soft launch, to answer some of the most common questions about New Jersey’s initial foray into regulated online casino and poker games.

What is the NJ online gambling soft launch?

The soft launch – essentially a beta testing period for regulated online gambling in NJ – began at 6pm on November 21st and runs intermittently through midnight on November 25th.

The public launch of regulated online gambling in NJ is tentatively slated for November 26th at 9am.

New Jersey officials have indicated that they will be willing to push back that date should problems arise during the soft launch.

Joe Versaci of Ultimate Gaming offered some insight into what operators would have to achieve in order to clear the soft launch trial:

What sites are taking part in the soft launch?

A total of 15 sites, spread across seven Internet Gaming Permit holders, have been approved to begin what the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement is calling “soft play” as of 6pm EST November 21st.

Per the DGE’s list, those sites include:

Borgata / Party

Caesars / 888 

Caesars / Amaya

Golden Nugget / Bally Technologies

Tropicana / Gamesys

Trump Plaza / Betfair

Trump Taj Mahal / Ultimate Gaming

What online poker networks are part of the soft launch?

PokerFuse has a good breakdown of the available poker options in NJ’s soft launch. Short answer:

  • All American Poker Network (888).
  • OnGame NJ (Golden Nugget and Betfair).
  • PartyPoker NJ (Party and Borgata).
  • Ultimate Poker NJ.
  • WSOP NJ.

Remember, these rooms are ring-fenced, meaning New Jersey players can only play against other NJ players.

For example, while Ultimate Poker does have a Nevada-facing online poker room, that pool of players remains separate from the site’s New Jersey-facing room.

Can anyone sign up to play?

No. Participation in the soft launch is limited by two factors:

  • You must be located within New Jersey (more precisely, the geo-location service of the casino must be able to place you in New Jersey).
  • Individual casino policy. Different casinos are taking different approaches to soft launch participation. For example: The Borgata soft launch is invitation-only. But Caesars’ online properties appear to allow anyone to sign up.

Are people having issues accessing casinos for soft launch play?

Yes. While no firm data is available, anecdotal reports indicate that consumers are having a variety of issues trying to access online casinos and poker rooms in New Jersey.

The primary issue at this point appears to be related to geo-location, or the technological process of confirming that a given consumer is actually located within New Jersey’s borders.

This article from the AP chronicles one consumer’s struggle with geo-location, and this piece from Press of Atlantic City details a handful of similar experiences.

These issues are not unexpected and should not provide much cause for alarm. In the soft launch period, casinos are trying to prove to NJ regulators that they can keep out customers who shouldn’t be allowed in, so it makes sense that systems would be calibrated to err on the side of denying access.

And remember, consumer participation in the soft launch is also restricted by individual casino policy. For example, The Borgata soft launch is invite-only. So some consumers may be mistaking casino policy for technical failure at this early point in the game.

The curious case of The Golden Nugget

The Golden Nugget has been on something of a roller coaster ride during the soft launch period.

Initially, the company was not included on the list of casinos approved for sort launch. Then, with just hours to go before launch, the company was added to the list.

At first, the NJ DGE listed both casino and poker URLs for Golden Nugget. But around 9:30 AM EST, the poker URLs were removed from the list of approved sites.

Who isn’t taking part in the soft launch?

Of Atlantic City’s 12 casinos, Resorts, Revel and the Atlantic Club Casino remain in a sort of iGaming limbo as New Jersey prepares to launch regulated online gambling.

Revel and the ACC have publicly indicated that they aren’t planning to pursue regulated online gambling at this point.

Resorts is interested in participating in the NJ market for online casino games and online poker, but has a proposed partnership with PokerStars awaiting regulatory approval.

Where can I get updated coverage of regulated online gambling in New Jersey?

Suggested Twitter accounts for NJ online gambling coverage:

Suggested sites:

New Jersey Online Gambling Soft Launch Lineup Revealed, Play Begins
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Chris Grove
Chris Grove - Chris is the publisher of Grove also serves as a consultant to various stakeholders in the regulated market for online gambling in the United States.