BetOpenly Sports Betting Site Quickly Draws New Jersey Regulatory Fire

Posted on September 9, 2019

There are currently 16 legal online NJ sportsbook apps. BetOpenly.com, however, is not one of them.

And it looks like the California-based company will not be conducting business in the Garden State anytime soon.

The USA’s first peer-to-peer sports gambling network launched in early August. However, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement caught wind of the illegal operation and quickly brought it to an end.

A letter dated Sept. 5, 2019, from NJ Assistant Attorney General Louis S. Rogacki to Open Games LLC provides a clear explanation.

Here is a snippet from the letter:

“The Division has accessed your website located at http://www.BetOpenly.com and found that it offers unauthorized sports betting to New Jersey residents, as well as other United States residents, in violation of the Casino Control Act, N.J.S.A 5:12-1.”

BetOpenly also does not operate in Arizona, Alabama, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada, and Washington.

BetOpenly told to ‘cease and desist’

The letter, which was also sent to the California Gambling Control Commission and the California Bureau of Gambling Control, basically notifies BetOpenly that its site is “contrary to New Jersey and federal law.”

After that, the letter makes it clear that NJ won’t be letting such an infraction slide under the radar:

“We request that you immediately cease and desist from facilitating wagers between patrons, and place a disclaimer on your site to that effect.”

If BetOpenly doesn’t follow through on those demands, New Jersey could “pursue civil or criminal sanctions” against the sports betting site.

NJ sports betting and gambling rules

All NJ online sportsbooks are required to have a land-based partner, whether it’s a casino or racetrack. NJ online casinos and poker sites must have an Atlantic City casino partner.

For instance, DraftKings Sportsbook and DraftKings Casino both operate under the Resorts Atlantic City internet gambling license. All three operations are regulated by the DGE.

BetOpenly operated outside these basic rules and outside the regulatory system.

But what is BetOpenly?

When BetOpenly rolled out its US operations, the premise was built around “skip the house fees.”

According to a press release, the concept “allows users to create a wager on any game, at any odds, for another user to accept.”

FanDuel Sportsbook, DraftKings Sportsbook, and William Hill NJ offer traditional formats in which customers are charged a fee when they lose (such as 10% on average with spread bets).

BetOpenly went with a different format. Users send bets to friends via email or text.

And in the process, BetOpenly is “the only web-based platform allowing users to create their own lines and odds, all at only 1%.”

Company founder Gino Donati shared why he started the company:

“I founded BetOpenly to empower sports enthusiasts with the freedom to choose their own lines and their own odds, without depending on the mathematical system that all but ensures over 80% will lose money with a bookie or sportsbook.”

At the time of the DGE’s announcement, BetOpenly had almost 400 active users.

If operations in New Jersey continue…

And if BetOpenly continues to accept NJ wagers following the warning letter, the DGE will not be standing pat.

DGE Director David Rebuck has taken a firm stance against offshore and illegal bookmakers. Cryptocurrency is a digital form of cash with an encryption component to it. But Bitcoin won’t be allowed in NJ anytime soon either.

During a panel discussion at June’s East Coast Gaming Congress, which took place at Harrah’s, Rebuck addressed the problem with offshore operators:

“[Offshore sites] are very good at what they do. We will keep fighting it. That will be a future issue.”

BetOpenly now appears to be on the same watch list.

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Bill Gelman

Bill Gelman is a veteran sports writer based just outside of Philadelphia and not too far from the Jersey Shore. Bill spends time in Atlantic City writing about casino openings and expansions, special events and now NJ sports betting and online gambling.

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