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New Jersey to launch 'soft' online gaming trial Thursday

(Reuters) - New Jersey will launch a five-day "soft" trial of 13 online gambling sites Thursday, ahead of the official November 26 debut of Internet gaming in the most populous state to date.

New Jersey follows Nevada and Delaware in permitting online poker, and will also allow residents to play other casino games online, as well.

Lisa Spengler, a spokeswoman for the Division of Gaming Enforcement, said orders were issued Thursday to six Internet gaming permit holders, including Caesars Interactive and the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, owned by Boyd Gaming Corp and MGM Resorts, to start soft play at 6 p.m. ET.

Other permit holders authorized to begin the soft launch include Tropicana Casino and Resort and Trump Plaza Associates.

Some permit holders are operating multiple sites. A total of 13 gaming sites were authorized to participate in the soft play period, Spengler said.

"The soft opening will be used to demonstrate to the division that all systems perform as required under the stress of live gaming and that operational and revenue reporting controls are effective. Staff will continually assess the progress of each platform provider before allowing them to open gaming to the general public on November 26," said DGE Director David Rebuck in a statement.

Caesars Interactive, a unit of Caesars Acquisition Company, said it was excited to be launching its brands in New Jersey, including its World Series of Poker site.

It said the soft launch will enable the public to play during limited hours, from 6 pm to 2 am ET, on Nov 21 and 22. Hours will be expanded on Nov 23, then ultimately play can continue around the clock.

(Reporting By Susan Zeidler; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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