Betfair’s loss of NJ iGaming partner Trump a blessing in disguise?

The last year has been a rocky road for the Betfair online poker and casino operation in New Jersey. Things were looking great when the Betfair teamed up with Trump Plaza to enter the Garden State’s shiny new iGaming market, launched in November of 2013, but all in all, things went downhill from there. Now, thanks to a string of major recent events, it looks like Betfair may get a whole new lease on life under the wing of Caesars Interactive – a potentially more successful one at that.

When Betfair originally launched its online poker and casino operation last year, a series of major malfunctions in the software left the poker end of the business sinking to the bottom of the barrel. It’s remained in that position ever since. The site may as well not even offer an online poker room anymore, although the option is still presented. The casino side, on the other hand, eventually drew enough interest to harvest a respectable profit over the last 11 months.

It appeared that all of Betfair’s hard work was about to come crashing down last month when one of Atlantic City’s casino establishments, Trump Plaza – Betfair’s partner I the iGaming venture – closed its doors and ceased all operations. By New Jersey law, in order to operate a real money online poker or casino website, the associated partners must have a contract with a licensed and operational land-based casino in Atlantic City.

Betfair immediately applied for a temporary waiver from the NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement to continue operating as an online gambling website in the state, and while few details about the terms of the agreement were revealed, the DGE did grant the request.

It’s finally been revealed just how Betfair was able to sustain its operating status. A document released by the DGE confirmed that the division has reviewed and approved a new contract between Betfair and Caesars Interactive, which already operates (powered by 888). The contractual waver is only good for 6 months, likely because the servers, by law, are required to be housed within the land-based casino with which an operator is partnered. Essentially, that gives Betfair 6 months to either find a new partner or transfer its servers to one of Caesars Entertainment’s three Atlantic City destinations; the latter being the much more likely scenario between the two.

The most interesting factor in all this is the potential for Betfair to see elevated success with its new partner. Trump Plaza refused to offer any form of marketing for, and being a relatively unknown brand in the US to begin with, that certainly truncated its level of awareness among New Jersey’s online betting public. Caesars, on the other hand, is well known for its highly visible promotional campaigns.

Caesars Interactive’s online poker endeavor in Nevada could eventually play a role in the success of Betfair as well. Nevada and Delaware have already entered into a compact to share player pools, and Caesars already maintains the most popular online poker site in the Silver State ( New Jersey recently expressed an interest in negotiating similar contracts for shared liquidity. If and when that time comes, it could give the Betfair online poker site access to players outside of New Jersey, catapulting it into a much more profitable position in 2015.

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