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Technology and Regulation

Vishal Patel, Engineering Manager, New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement

Technology and Regulation

Vishal Patel earned a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York in 2004. His first job was one state down for an entry-level position with the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement in 2005.

“It was the best career opportunity for me at the time based on the education and technical experience required for the position, as well as the scope and responsibilities associated with the work,” says Patel, a Malaysian native who moved to the U.S. at age 18.

As an entry-level engineer, Patel developed broad experience testing slot machines and associated products to meet the rules and technical standards established by the state.

It’s now 2022, and Patel still works for the agency as engineering manager for the Technical Services Bureau, where he oversees the engineering, math and field inspections units.

“I am fortunate to work with a great group of caring and talented individuals within the division and the industry,” he says. The success of high-profile projects such as the launch of internet gaming and sports wagering, new casino openings, and major casino IT upgrades relies on the collaborative efforts of such colleagues, which contributes to overall job satisfaction, he says.

“Each day brings new challenges and opportunities for further growth, which is an important reason why I’ve remained with the division.”

As manager, Patel ensures that new products and new technologies meet the established standards and are completed in a timely manner to meet launch dates. These efforts ran into something of a brick wall when Covid-19 struck in early 2020.

“Covid-19 required us to quickly transition to remote work, and fortunately we had great success in maintaining productivity with the evaluation of engineering submissions, especially all products related to internet gaming and other investigative functions,” Patel says.

The transition also accelerated the need to update internal procedures from paper checklists and physical files to electronic ones, which is now standard practice, says Patel, who enjoys traveling with his family and hopes to take them to Malaysia in the not-too-distant future.

Looking ahead, Patel still sees plenty of work to do with online gaming, and sportsbook operators adding innovations to improve offerings and patron experience. What’s more, brick-and-mortar casinos upgrade to the latest casino systems capable of offering additional features such as cashless wagering and sophisticated promotional campaigns. His job goes beyond simply seeing that the games work as promised within the state’s regulations.

“My role, along with other regulators and industry partners in the coming years, is to guarantee that the technologies that are being leveraged to make gaming easily accessible and more user-friendly for patrons are also implementing more sophisticated responsible gaming, fraud detection, and cyber security controls,” Patel says. “We are always learning and updating our skill set in the ever-growing field of business intelligence and data analytics to ensure that we achieve the strongest patron protection controls.”

The DGE has already begun taking the necessary steps by recently mandating new best practices in cybersecurity with similar best practices in responsible gaming to follow by the end of this year.

Sounds like the DGE and counterparts in other states will require new engineers well into the future. “The best advice that I can offer is to not be complacent,” Patel says.

“It is easy to get comfortable with a routine set of assignments which can limit opportunities for future growth and advancement. The gaming industry is multi-faceted with a diverse need for experienced and knowledgeable individuals. It is important to take on additional responsibilities when available and to proactively pursue more challenging assignments or projects.”

Bill Sokolic is a veteran journalist who has covered gaming and tourism for more than 25 years as a staff writer and freelancer with various publications and wire services. He's also written stories for news, entertainment, features, and business. He co-authored Atlantic City Revisited, a pictorial history of the resort.

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