PokerStars Fined $10,000 by New Jersey DGE

Poker game being played on PokerStars in New Jersey

Stars Group received a $10,000 fine from the Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE), because PokerStars accepted college sports bets. Stars Group owns PokerStars, which operates the largest poker site in the New Jersey online gaming market. PokerStars also runs an online sportsbook and casino in partnership with Resorts Casino, an Atlantic City resort.

Under New Jersey law, sports bettors cannot wager on in-state college sporting events. Therefore, betting on games involving Rutgers or Princeton is illegal.

Despite the law, PokerStars posted a November 2018 bet for a football game between Rutgers University Scarlett Knights and the Eastern Michigan University Eagles. When it announced the fine, the DGE said 216 bettors placed wagers on the outcome of the Rutgers-Eastern Michigan game.

PokerStars violated the law a second time in January 2019. The second violation involved New Jersey Monmouth University Hawks in a game against the University of Pennsylvania Quakers. A single bettor wagered on the Monmouth University-Pennsylvania game.

Matt Primeaux on Fine

Matt Primeaux, the US VIP for Strategy and Operations at Stars Group, admitted PokerStars made a mistake. The company refunded all bets and agreed to pay the fine.

In a statement to the Press of Atlantic City, Matt Primeaux said, “We generally don’t comment on regulatory matters like these, but we had a ‘manual gating’ error from our international games into New Jersey. We cooperated with the DGE as we always do. [We] have learnt from the problem and are confident it won’t re-occur.”

PokerStars Refunds 217 Bets

In essence, PokerStars’ ported bets over from countries where Rutgers and Monmouth University games are not banned. It is the kind of error which happens when new products launch, which explains the smaller fine. While any sportsbook doesn’t like fines, a $10,000 fine is not much to PokerStars.

Refunding the bets are a much bigger deal. PokerStars repaid the customers of FullTilt Poker and other rival poker sites in the Black Friday case. In the case of FTP, PokerStars bought the rival card room and refunding accounts was good public relations.

Most US states which allow sports betting do not ban in-state college bets. New Mexico’s two tribal land-based casinos do not take wagers on the University of New Mexico and New Mexico State games. Otherwise, all other states allow in-state college betting.

Unlicensed Offshore Wagers

Gaming media groups pointed out that unregulated betting sites allow in-state wagers on Rutgers, Princeton, and Monmouth University games. Their point is New Jersey sports bettors will find a way to wager on the games, so laws banning such wagers are ineffective and should be repealed.

Dustin Gouker, Head of Content for Catena Media and a writer for Forbes and Legal Sports Report, made the same point. Gouker said, “Having betting out in the open where it can be monitored and seen is a lot more effective in discovering unusual betting patterns and thereby preserving the integrity of the game.”

The American Gaming Association estimates $150 billion of unlicensed sports betting takes place in the United States each year.

Bwin.Party and Rush Street Interactive Fine

The Division of Gaming Enforcement issued two other fines to New Jersey gaming sites. Bwin.party received an $81,000 fine for allowing problem gamblers on the self-exclusion list to place bets.

Rush Street Interactive, owner of SugarHouse Casino, received a $30,000 fine for failing to prevent underage gambling on their website. Age verification software is a major part of any regulated online gaming market, so inability to stop teen gambling is a major violation.

Cliff Spiller

Cliff Spiller

Cliff Spiller has been an online writer for more than a decade. He worked for Small World Marketing for years, where he covered topics like gaming, sports, movies, and how-to guides. He's covered US and international gambling news on BestOnlineCasinos.com, USPokerSites.com, and LegalUSPokerSites.com since 2014.

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