New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) Director David Rebuck sent a letter to his state’s online gambling licensees telling them that they must stop doing business in Australia if they have not already and provide evidence of the steps they are taking to block Australians from their sites.
“Failure to do so,” Rebuck wrote, “may result in the Division taking regulatory action against your company, including finding your company unsuitable for licensure in New Jersey.”
The groundwork for this warning was laid in April 2016, when Rebuck issued a Director’s Advisory Bulletin, clarifying the DGE’s stance on New Jersey licensees and license applicants who operate in “grey market” jurisdictions, defined as “jurisdictions where the laws were ambiguous or not enforced.”
In the Bulletin, Rebuck said that if a grey market started to take steps to enforce its gaming regulations, then it would be considered a black market and thus New Jersey licensees or applicants would not be permitted to operate there.
Australia was one of these grey markets until mid-September, when the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 – passed a month earlier – took effect. IGA required online gaming operators to apply for and be issued a proper license to offer their services in Australia, something which is completely reasonable. Unfortunately for many, though, only online sports betting was made legal, so there was no licensing opportunity for internet poker and casino operators. Thus, Australia has become a black market in the eyes of the New Jersey DGE for poker and casino operators.
After the regulations were put in play, Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) Acting Chairman Richard Bean wrote to Rebuck, getting him up to speed on the regulations and some things ACMA will do to enforce these regulations. He then referred to the April 2016 Bulletin, saying, “….we would appreciate your assistance in informing online gaming operators licenses in New Jersey about the above changes so they can take the necessary steps to ensure they are not at risk of contravening, or facilitating a contravention of, Australian law.”
Rebuck has done this, writing the letter to New Jersey operators, telling them that they “….must comply with Australia’s new laws and cease offering all prohibited services to customers in Australia. Failure to do so many result in the Division taking regulatory action against your company, including finding your company unsuitable for licensure in New Jersey.”
Rebuck is giving licensees 15 days from September 29th (the date on the letter) to explain how they are blocking people in Australia from accessing their sites, when these steps will be completed, and, if the operators are still allowing Australians on their sites, to explain why.
The above applies to both business-to-consumer (B2C) operators and business-to-business (B2B) operators. The one difference is that B2B operators must also ensure that their B2C partners are in compliance.