NJ’s “Cease and Desist” Order Shakes up Non-US Authorized Online Poker Room Operators

The Bovada Poker Room of the Bodog Poker Network and the Americas Cardroom and True Poker of the Winning Poker Network, have announced that they no longer accept U.S. poker players.

The announcements came after New Jersey Assistant Attorney General George N. Rover ordered six online poker affiliate websites to remove promotional links to non-U.S. approved poker sites, while promoting U.S. licensed online poker operators.

The “cease and desist” letter sent out last April to the six affiliate websites, namely PokerSource.com, RaketheRake.com, CardsChat.com, Pokersites.com and RakeBrain.com, made reference to the Garden State’s New Jersey Control Act. The Act stipulates that “Any person who offers games into play or displays such games through Internet gaming without approval of the division to do so, is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree that is subject to a fine of not more than US$25,000; or US$100,000, in case the violator is an entity other than a natural person.”

The letter also cited the definition of a person guilty of promoting gambling as one who “engages in conduct, which materially aids any form of gambling activity”, including the “solicitation or inducement of persons to participate therein,” among other conducts deemed as illegally offering and promoting online gaming activities contrary to New Jersey and federal laws.

The letter specifically mentioned that Bovada, Merge Gaming, and WPN skins America’s Cardroom and Black Chip Poker, are not approved by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE) and that their online poker gaming transactions with NJ residents are in violation of New Jersey’s Act.

NJDGE Spokesperson Kerry Langan stated that the publication of links aimed at promoting unlicensed online poker sites, tend to “taint legitimate sites by associating them with the illegal ones, and conversely may lend the appearance that these illegal sites are affiliated with the authorized sites.”

The NJDGE representative further asserted that NJ’s regulatory licensing and regulatory requirements make certain that Internet gaming services can only be offered by online gambling companies that have been carefully vetted by the NJ regulatory body. The poker affiliate websites mentioned could be deemed as engaging in illegal activities, because such promotional links tend to give an impression that the illegal ones are associated with the legal U.S. gaming sites, which is hardly the case since the illegal poker operators do not offer U.S. players the same level of protection furnished by the operators of NJ-licensed regulated sites.

In the weeks following the issuance of the warning letter, several offshore licensed online gambling sites have withdrawn their real money gaming services to U.S. based players. The Bovada announcement, however, which was made through BettingPartners, a Bodog-Bovada affiliate network, stated that NJ residents who have existing accounts with Bovada.lv can still participate in real money games; and that the site’s horse racing, sports wagering and casino game business remain available to NJ residents even if the latter intends to sign-up at some future date.

Americas Cardroom and True Poker announcements were more definitive in stating that their respective poker networks will no longer serve players coming from the U.S. regulated states of Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada.

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