How Do New Jersey Regulators Test Online Poker Software?

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The process through which regulated online poker and casino software is tested in New Jersey is technical, complex and largely removed from public view.

But, given the frequency of updates to online poker and casino platforms, and the fact that all of those updates must pass muster with regulators, the process is of no small consequence to players.

To provide a bit of context for those interested, OPR’s Steve Ruddock recently conducted a Q&A with New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement Technical Services Bureau Chief Eric Weiss.

Steve Ruddock: Could you explain the process online poker software and software updates go through before they are approved?

Eric Weiss: There are four aspects of regulatory oversight.

The first is the licensing process where the Division determines the good character, honesty and integrity of the vendor who manufacturers the gaming equipment, in this case poker software.

The second involves the testing of the poker software for compliance with regulations. Testing is conducted by the Division’s Technical Services Bureau (TSB)  who is responsible for evaluating the product’s random number generator, disclosure of the rules of the game, game play, expected return to player ( RTP), general fairness and integrity.

After a product is tested and approved, the third process is installation and monitoring. The TSB verifies all software installations to ensure that only approved software is installed. We use digital signatures to accomplish this task.

Additionally, TSB has installed software behind the firewall of each I-Gaming System and monitors their systems for security events which could negatively impact data, software or network integrity.

The last process is operation oversight which conducted by our Regulatory Enforcement Bureau (REB).  REB certifies revenue, performs regulatory compliance audits, reviews marketing programs and responds to patron complaints.

SR: Who does the testing for the DGE? And do they have a background in online poker software?

EW: The Technical Services Bureau employs mathematicians, electrical engineers, programmers, and IT Security Specialists to evaluate the products that are submitted for approval.

As part of the approval process for poker, we assigned staff who are familiar with poker rules to evaluate the game play and fraud detection.

SR: Is it a team of people, and if so how many do the testing?

EW: There was not one specific team.  We utilized volunteers from various Bureaus of the Division for game play evaluation and used specialists to conduct the technical evaluation.

SR: Are online poker providers constantly sending the DGE software to test, or are upgrades sent in less frequent, larger bunches?

EW: This varies. Once a product has been tested and approved all modifications to regulated functions must be tested and approved by the TSB.

Some vendors submit more frequently than others.

SR: Is the testing process for online poker software more complex than the DGE had anticipated?

EW: The TSB has over 35 years of testing experience. From the standpoint of RNG, game software, graphics and sound, the products submitted for approval are not that much different than products used in the land based environment.

However, there is much more of an emphasis on virtual controls as the software no longer resides under the watch of a casino surveillance camera.

Fortunately we have a highly skilled workforce that specializes in IT security and electronics.

SR: Is there a backlog of software to be tested?

EW: There is always a small backlog of products waiting to be tested. We allow vendors to prioritize their submissions and we are averaging about 21 days to approval.

- Steve covers nearly every angle of online poker in his job as a full-time freelance poker writer. His primary focus for OPR is the developing legal and legislative picture for regulated US online poker and gambling.
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