The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement has issued a small fine against one of the leading online gambling operators licensed in the state for winning a five-figure sum from a self-excluded player.
The DGE sent a “Notice of Violation” to The Stars Group (TSG) on Jan. 26 imposing a $1,000 civil penalty for failing to prevent two self-excluded patrons from accessing its platform. Just one of these players actually gambled. According to the Notice of Violation obtained by NJ Online Gambling through a records request with the state, the incident dates back to 2019.
Here’s what happened …
The unnamed gambler requested a six-month responsible gaming “cool-down” on Sept. 24, 2018. He later self-excluded entirely on Feb. 28, 2019. Later that year on July 6, the gambler contacted customer support and requested access to his account. His account was reactivated at that time, as the six-month cool-down period had expired and a “technological issue” in an earlier software update to the TSG player database didn’t place a “Banned by Regulator flag” on his account after he had self-banned through the platform.
He started gambling again on July 6, 2019, up until April 23, 2020. In that span of about 10 months, the player deposited $11,450 and withdrew $112.97, according to the Notice of Violation. He made $548,890 worth of online casino bets during the time period and also made peer-to-peer poker wagers of $91,244. In total, TSG profited $16,055 through his gambling activity, according to the notice.
TSG, also known simply as PokerStars, was ordered to disgorge that $16,000 amount. TSG agreed to the fine, half of the maximum fine allowed, and disgorgement on Jan. 28, 2021.
More on the software malfunction
The DGE received a notice from TSG on May 7, 2020, about what had happened, about two weeks after TSG froze the player account in question. PokerStars was the party that discovered the incident.
The incident was uncovered during an audit of the player database against the DGE’s self-exclusion file.
The gambler self-excluded on the day PokerStars was in the process of the software upgrade and was accidentally not flagged properly “following a failed attempt” to upgrade the database.
“[A]fter the upgrade was completed,” the Notice of Violation stated, “programmers noticed that some back-end facing database functions were not processing as they should, such as requests for patron information and player account history. As a result, on Feb. 28, 2019, PokerStars rolled back the build release and reverted to the standby database. During the rollback, some database transactions had not yet completed and subsequently did not copy to the standby database.”
The gambler’s self-exclusion request “was still being processed by the system when the rollback was performed.” Fortunately, the player’s self-exclusion request was properly sent to the DGE, a list that is shared with other licensed operators.