Man who gambled in New Jersey from California forfeits $90K

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey gambling regulators have ordered a California man to hand over more than $90,000 from online accounts he had funded and gambled with from outside the state in what appears to be the largest such case in the more than five years internet betting has been legal in New Jersey.

The state Division of Gaming Enforcement said this week that Vinh Dao, whose hometown was not made public, violated New Jersey law requiring that internet betting be done only by those physically within the state's borders.

Due to his cooperation and to negotiate an end to the case, which began more than five years ago, the state agreed to let Dao keep $2,500 of the nearly $93,000 that was in his online accounts with sites affiliated with the Borgata and Caesars Interactive-NJ.

The case dates to February 2014, just three months after internet gambling began in New Jersey, a time when geolocation technology was still developing and being adjusted in the state.

New Jersey has long touted the strict geolocation technology it uses to make sure internet gambling is only happening within its borders, and considers itself a national role model in the field. It has said most of the many attempts each day to gamble from outside the state are detected and turned away.

A message seeking comment was left Wednesday with Dao's attorney. It was not immediately clear how Dao was able to get around geolocation technology designed to ensure a person is within New Jersey's borders.

The technology erects a sort of digital fencing around New Jersey. A key component — but only one of several used to verify physical locations — is data from wireless carriers. They rely on connections that phones make to the nearest cell tower. While people can easily download applications to their phone that will let it mask its GPS coordinates, users cannot thwart or trick cellphone tower data, tech execs say.

Multiple layers of high technology should also work to ensure that minors or people on casino exclusion lists don't get online to gamble. Companies will cross-check the information provided by a customer at sign-up against several public and private databases and other sources. That could lead to software asking a personal identifying question that only a legitimate user would be able to answer.

The casino companies that allowed Dao to gamble online from outside New Jersey could be subject to fines. The Borgata declined comment; Caesars Interactive said it would look into the details of the case, but did not address potential penalties, and regulators did not respond to questions about the case Wednesday.

The forfeited money will be split between a fund for senior citizens and the disabled, and programs to prevent or treat compulsive gambling.

The Dao case was the largest of six forfeiture cases made public this week involving casino companies accepting bets from people ineligible to gamble, because the patrons were under 21 years of age, had placed themselves on a self-exclusion list, or in Dao's case, were acting from outside the state's borders.

In addition to the Borgata and Caesars Interactive, smaller forfeitures were ordered in cases involving Bally's and the Golden Nugget.


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