Regulators plan to hire 25 additional workers and contract with an online casino systems consultant in preparation for Internet gambling beginning sometime before Thanksgiving.
The consultant would help the Division of Gaming Enforcement identify holes in its draft Internet gambling regulations as well as be around for testing and implementation.
“The point is that while DGE did extensive research to determine how to draft Internet gaming rules, we require the services of an expert to examine whether we missed anything significant and whether the casino industry’s response to our rules is reasonable,” regulators said in a bid solicitation.
Gaming enforcement spokeswoman Lisa Spengler and officials from the Department of Treasury — which issued the bid on behalf of the division — said Tuesday they did not know whether a consultant had been chosen yet. The bid document says the contract must be signed and in effect by the end of this month.
Internet gambling is slated to be up and running in New Jersey by Nov. 26, two days before Thanksgiving. That means regulations must be published, Internet gambling operators licensed, regulatory controls put in place and software systems tested and ready to take bets by that time.
“I think that’s very aggressive,” said Tony Cabot, a Las Vegas-based lawyer whose specialities include Internet gambling.
Overseeing Internet gambling is akin to monitoring banking transactions or secure retail purchases; a person’s location, age and identity must be verified and other security controls must be in place. All of those systems are complex and require a lot of scrutiny.
“Interactive gaming is so radically different from regular gaming, it may as well as be a new area,” Cabot said. “It’s closer to Amazon than Bellagio.”
The Division of Gaming Enforcement is under pressure to make the deadline, not only due to provisions in the Internet gambling law requiring the quick turnaround, but also because the state is counting on the new revenues to reverse Atlantic City’s years of slumping casino profits.
Regulators have said they are committed to making the deadline.
“In less than two months, the division has posted for 25 additional employees and is presently interviewing; posted for a specialized consultant and drafted a complete set of regulations, which are expected to be published in the coming weeks,” Spengler said in a statement.
The division recently posted to its website job notices for network administrator, database analyst and other technology positions — some of which carry a salary of as much as $103,000.
While the division is adding staff, it isn’t asking the state for more money. Its budget for next year remains at $47 million, which is the amount appropriated this year, although it is about $2 million more than what the division actually spent in 2012.
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