A state as small as New Jersey wields more power than one might think, especially in the emerging United States online gaming market. And its gaming regulators have shown what global Internet gaming companies will do to gain their favor for an operating license in the small American state.
The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement recently passed out its first series of licenses to casinos located in Atlantic City. From that point, approvals were given to companies that will work with them, some permits in the form of transactional waivers for companies like Amaya Gaming. This allows them to officially work toward the November 21 soft launch of the real-money online gaming sites for New Jersey, as well as the November 26 hard launch.
Concessions Were Made
In the midst of the permissions granted, though, some companies have made some rather significant concessions in order to be a part of the industry. The first came from bwin.party on October 31, when it was revealed that PartyGaming founder Ruth Parasol DeLeon and soon-to-be-ex-husband James DeLeon were divesting 117 million shares of bwin.party.
The company published a press release regarding its application for a New Jersey Casino Service Industry Enterprise License. “As part of the application process, certain substantial shareholders of bwin.party are required to submit individual license applications to the DGE or otherwise dispose of their shareholdings.” The DeLeons were the primary focus, and they did agree to enter into a divestiture agreement rather than submit applications.
Their shares will be placed into “divestiture trusts, through which their shares will be divested over a period of up to 36 months in one or more transactions at times to be determined.” This will occur after New Jersey grants the transactional waiver to bwin.party and then a full license to operate per its agreement with Borgata in New Jersey.
Another Deal Was Brokered
A little more than a week later, Amaya Gaming Group announced that its Vice President of Online, Paul Leggett, stepped down from his post at the company. This revelation came at the same time as Amaya was granted its transactional waiver in New Jersey.
Leggett has been a controversial figure in poker since his days as the Chief Operating Officer at Tokwiro Enterprises, owner of Ultimate Bet and Absolute Poker. Both of those sites not only endured a cheating scandal under his leadership, but the companies eventually folded after Black Friday and have yet to make any efforts to repay customers. But it was Leggett’s time at Tokwiro during the scandal that made him a disliked and distrusted member of the online gaming community. Not many were happy when he took the role at Amaya Gaming earlier this year, but that time is now over.
Amaya CEO David Baazov did not give a reason for Leggett’s departure; he simply praised Leggett for his “incredible job” at the company. If there was no ill will at Amaya, the explanation for his exit may be with the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, as the timing was more than coincidental.
The lengths to which companies will go to participate in United States online gaming is greater than anticipated, indicating that many see growth in the market well beyond the boundaries of Atlantic City.