Sports betting companies operating in the US state of New Jersey are under pressure from two directions as 2021 gets underway.
Betting firms have been on the receiving end of a warning from the state gambling regulator over their withdrawal procedures, while at the same time, neighbouring states are shaping up to launch rival betting sectors of their own.
The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) has issued their warning to New Jersey operators after having apparently received a considerable number of complaints from sports betting customers in the state relating to the time taken to action withdrawal requests. They have issued an advisory bulletin on the subject to all companies in the state.
According to reports, some customers have complained that they are having to wait up to two weeks before they have been able to access withdrawn funds. In its bulletin, the DGE acknowledged that extended periods of time in the case of withdrawal requests can sometimes be down to the need to clarify possible issues, including fraud, identity theft or money laundering.
But while acknowledging this qualifying factor, the DGE said that the sheer volume of complaints had forced it to undertake a review of existing regulations and industry practices when it comes to withdrawals, with the measures designed to ensure player protection coming in for the most scrutiny.
Of particular concern for the DGE is the number of allegations made by customers that operators had been encouraging or enticing them to reverse their original withdrawal request and to bet with the money. In some cases, it was also suggested that customers had been offered access to bonus money to bet with, to reverse a pending request for a withdrawal.
In response, the regulator gave a warning that regulatory action and civil penalties would be issued in cases where customers had been improperly encouraged or incentivized to negate their withdrawal requests in order to resume gambling activity.
The controversy comes at a time when the New Jersey betting sector is also bracing itself for significant competition from nearby states. As one of the first states in the US to legalise sports betting, in the summer of 2018, New Jersey has enjoyed a significant advantage, enabling it to set records for revenue figures, partly by drawing customers from states where sports betting is not legal.
That looks set to change in 2021. In Connecticut, which borders both New York and Massachusetts, a long running impasse between state authorities and the Native American tribes who run the state’s casino sector seems to have been resolved, making sports betting a realistic 2021 prospect.
Of more direct concern to New Jersey companies is the likelihood of the legalisation of mobile betting in New York. The wealthiest state in the US currently permits in-person sports betting at select venues but many New Yorkers opt to cross the border to bet with their mobiles in New Jersey. State governor Andrew Cuomo now appears to have reversed his opposition to mobile sports betting, and if New York legalises this sector in 2021, the state is likely to steal a significant portion of the New Jersey sports betting audience.