Ultimate Gaming carved its way into the history books by launching the very first regulated, real money online poker site in the United States. Nevada’s Ultimate Poker has been running strong for 17 months now, and there’s no foreseeable reason for that path to be altered. However, the company’s venture on the east coast hasn’t gone quite so harmoniously. Last week, officials announced that its online poker and casino offerings in New Jersey, Ultimate Poker and UCasino, will be ceasing operations in the Garden State next month.
Members of the NJ online poker and casino websites were assured that their account balances are safe, and all funds will be returned over the next two weeks. There is no reason to fear that the balances cannot be covered, as was the case when Full Tilt Poker was shut down back in 2011, failing to have the fiscal capability to repay hundreds of millions of dollars to American customers. New Jersey’s iGaming regulations require all operators to maintain a separate account in which all player funds are secured, so that just in case scenarios like this or any other unforeseen event occurs, all of the funds to reimburse players are always readily available.
“We regret to inform you that Ultimate Gaming has terminated its agreement with Trump Taj Mahal Associates LLC,” read an ‘Important Notice for New Jersey Players’ that appeared on the website Friday. “As a consequence we will be closing our Ultimate Casino (www.ucasino.com) & Ultimate Poker (www.ultimatepoker.com) businesses in New Jersey.”
Deposits were disabled the moment the message appeared on the NJ online poker and casino websites on Friday, while gaming activity was ceased on Sunday, September21, at 11:59 pm EPT. Players were asked to “go to your account and withdraw any balances you may have by following the normal withdrawal procedures.” Any questions customers may have are to be directed to the support staff via email or live chat support, available 11:00am to 3:00am.
One obvious question would be how long do players have to request a withdrawal of their balances. Ultimate Gaming responded to that issue by saying accounts will be accessible for withdrawal until September 28. Any balances that have not been withdrawn by that deadline will be automatically refunded by way of a check to mailed to the address on file at Ultimate Poker / UCasino by October 5, 2014.
There are two key factors that likely played a large role in Ultimate Gaming’s decision to exit the New Jersey market. First of all, the iGaming revenue hasn’t exactly been overflowing for the company. Partnered with the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, UCasino was pulling in a decent amount of income from its online casino offering, but it’s no secret that the online poker room was struggling. Average cash game traffic had dropped into the single digits during the Spring, and it didn’t help matters that it’s AC partner refused to support the online gambling services by way of launching its own website, or even posting a single advertisement banner within the land-based casino.
Trump Plaza closed its doors earlier this month, and while Trump Taj Mahal continues serving the gambling population of New Jersey, it’s not certain how long that will last. There have already been four casino closures in Atlantic City this year; three of them just this month. In order to conduct an online poker and/or casino site in the Garden State, the operator must be partnered with a land-based casino. Betfair was given a temporary reprieve when its partner, Trump Plaza, ceased to exit. But could it be that the termination of Ultimate Poker and UCasino in New Jersey is a foreshadowing of the imminent future of Trump Taj Mahal?