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New Jersey’s Embrace of Skill Gambling Could Reshape Land-Based, Online Casino Industries

Candy Crush
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The call at this year’s G2E from suppliers and operators to regulators was as consistent as it was urgent: Give us more ways to engage players, and a shorter regulatory path to market for those new options.

The response from New Jersey regulators: we hear you loud and clear.

Today, the NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) announced that they are accepting applications for skill-based casino games.

Excerpt:

The Division is currently authorized to approve skill-based games and is eager to receive skill-based game submissions for review. Social and skill-based gaming options such as Candy Crush and Words with Friends type games appeal to a new generation of players. Both the casino regulators and industry are trying to find ways to incorporate this type of play into the casino wagering environment.

Emphasis placed on speed of approval

The statement from the DGE specifically, and repeatedly, stressed the ability of New Jersey regulators to compress the period of time between application and game deployment:

  • The statement highlights a provision of NJ law that “allows gaming products, which are submitted to New Jersey prior to or simultaneously with any other jurisdiction or testing lab, to be tested and, if approved, put on the casino floor within 14 days.”
  • DGE Director David Rebuck boasted that New Jersey has “the fastest time to market for electronic gaming equipment anywhere in the country.
  • “Bring your innovative skill-based games to New Jersey,” Rebuck continued, “and we will work with you to get them approved quickly.”

Read the full statement from the DGE.

Skill games could come to NJ’s legal online gambling sites

While the DGE statement doesn’t directly mention of online gambling, a DGE spokesperson confirmed to OPR that they were accepting applications for “both online and land-based games.”

The DGE has wide latitude to approve games for online play.

And the games cited in the release as examples – Candy Crush and Words With Friends – are successful largely because of the mobile, incremental nature of the gameplay experience.

That experience arguably fits more neatly in an online environment (or online / live hybrid) than it does into a traditional slot machine console.

The shape of Atlantic City to come?

The DGE’s aggressive move into skill games and fantasy sports, along with legislative efforts like Sen. Raymond Lesniak’s to create an international iGaming licensing hub in New Jersey, suggest an interesting vision of Atlantic City’s future.

In this future, Atlantic City continues to offer a consumer-facing, land-based casino product (albeit a scaled-down one).

Meanwhile, the tax and employment losses created by the shuttering of casinos are offset by a new local industry producing the next wave of regulated gambling products, an industry uniquely supported and sustained by:

  • A world-class regulatory body.
  • A largely amenable legislature.
  • One of the few existing regulatory structures / markets for online gambling in the United States.
  • Proximity to New York and Washington D.C..
  • A built-in test market for new products and approaches in the form of AC’s remaining casinos.

The amount of interest in New Jersey’s skill game program should serve as an early indicator of how much of that future will remain ambition and how much will materialize into actuality.

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Chris Grove
- Chris is the publisher of OnlinePokerReport.com. Grove also serves as a consultant to various stakeholders in the regulated market for online gambling in the United States.