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As the closing on GVC’s acquisition of bwin draws near, the issue of an interactive gaming licence in New Jersey comes into question.
The sources explained that Borgata has concerns over whether new owner GVC will be acceptable to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE). There has been no public announcement that the DGE has approved the continuation of bwin.party’s license following the takeover scheduled to complete on February 1, but then again there has been no announcement to the contrary either.
Poker Industry PRO reached out to the DGE for comment, but no response was received by the time of publication.
In case GVC is not approved, Borgata will have already begun talks with other potential technology suppliers that offer alternative gaming platforms.
The regulatory procedure the DGE will follow if it does not approve GVC is not entirely clear. The Borgata and bwin.party partnership generates substantial revenues and Atlantic City would likely suffer financially if there were any extended interruption.
The DGE has shown itself to be flexible where it has freedom of action, and is unlikely to suddenly order one of its top licensees to stop operating. More probably, the DGE would give the Borgata time to find a new partner so that service provision would be uninterrupted.
For its part, GVC has said that it fully expects to be approved in New Jersey, even though it has a history of operating in jurisdictions where it does not have a license.
Other online gambling licensees in New Jersey have a history of falling foul of gambling laws or being on blacklists in some jurisdictions. Bwin.party’s own bwin.com brand remains on the blacklist in Hungary for example, and 888poker, bwin.party and newly DGE approved PokerStars are all on Latvia’s blacklist.
The DGE is likely to look at GVC much deeper than simply determining bad actor status based on its gray market activities in the rest of the world. In the same way as the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) considers similar issues, the DGE will want to see the operator’s legal justification for its decision to operate in specific jurisdictions.
While the news that the Borgata is exploring options may sound ominous, the reality may be that the casino group is doing no more than mitigating the potential risk that GVC might not get a license. In doing so, its management would be acting responsibly, even if they actually believe that GVC will meet the DGE’s rigorous standards.
This article is syndicated by the leading poker industry news authority, Poker Industry PRO.
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