PartyPoker Owner GVC Passes New Jersey Suitability Investigation

Written By Joss Wood on June 14, 2016

[toc]The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) has issued an order concluding that bwin.party’s new owner, GVC, is suitable as a license applicant.

GVC announced that the DGE stated:

“GVC and its individual qualifiers possess the requisite good character, honesty, and integrity should it file for a transactional waiver.”

The decision removes the risk that PartyPoker could be forced to leave the New Jersey online gambling market.

Kenneth Alexander, CEO said:

“I am delighted the DGE has confirmed that GVC meets its stringent regulatory requirements and that bwin.party can continue to operate in New Jersey under its current licences. This is an important development for GVC and one that places the enlarged Group in a strong position should further regulated opportunities in the US arise.

GVC has licences in over 14 countries and continues to seek further licences in markets as the regulatory framework evolves.”

GVC has had restricted access to nj.partypoker during the investigation

GVC became the owner of PartyPoker in February, but it has been restricted in what it could do with the New Jersey regulated poker room while the DGE made a preliminary investigation (paywall) of its suitability.

During this period, staff at the New Jersey office have been forbidden to communicate directly with staff or executives at GVC. The DGE has also ordered the termination of this “Monitoring Agreement.”

PartyPoker New Jersey may now benefit from increased management attention

In GVC’s annual report for 2015, Alexander was able to boast that PartyPoker revenues had increased for the first time in five years. Among other reasons, he attributed this to more management focus on online poker, and “far more intensive marketing and CRM in particular.”

In an interview with Gambling Insider, Alexander explained some of the changes he has introduced:

“Under GVC, I’ve given all the gaming brands quite a lot of attention. PartyPoker, PartyCasino and FoxyBingo have been given far more focus and have been made more of a priority than they were in the past and they’ve got a few new heads running them.”

Now that communication between the UK headquarters of GVC and the New Jersey office has been restored, nj.partypoker should now receive the same level of extra focus as the dot.com site.

Alexander had been rumored to be ambivalent toward the U.S. operation, but he refuted this suggestion saying:

“Personally, I’m very keen that we do get a licence, because I think it would give us some optionality in the U.S.”

The Borgata relationship may now be secure

Even before GVC officially took control of bwin.party, there were concerns that the Borgata may have been reconsidering its relationship with the company.

Some substance was given to the possibility of the Borgata severing its partnership with bwin.party after GAN announced a deal with the Borgata that it hoped would lead to a launch of real money online gaming this summer.

GAN CEO Dermot Smurfit said:

“In 2016 Simulated Gaming will be served to the majority of Borgata’s patrons who live out-of-state and, in the event GAN receives Borgata’s consent to commence operations is equally capable of simultaneously serving real money Regulated Gaming to the Borgata’s patrons resident in New Jersey.”

Those plans may or may not be affected by the DGE decision. At the time, it looked like the Borgata deal could just be sound corporate planning for an eventuality which was unlikely to arrive.

Tom Ballance, president and COO of the Borgata commented:

“We also take great comfort in having GAN’s excellent real money internet gaming product available to us as needed.”

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Joss Wood

Though Joss Wood's primary focus is on international regulated online gambling markets, he also follows the legal New Jersey online gambling industry and writes extensively about sports betting. Previously he worked as the editor of Poker Industry Pro, worked in business and finance, and played online poker professionally for seven years.

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