At least four regulated online gambling sites in the state of New Jersey were shut down for a short while over the Fourth of July weekend, after hackers attacked their software platform. The New Jersey Gaming Enforcement Division announced that the hackers demanded that a Bitcoin ransom be paid and, if not, they threatened to attack once more. David Rebuck, the director of the gambling authority, said that the four sites – which were not named – were made inoperative for a short space of time since their websites were victims of what is known as a Denial of Service attack. This means that the hackers flooded the sites with enquiries and information until all limits were exceeded. Rebuck said that the cyberattacks were followed by “the threat of a more powerful and sustained attack to be initiated 24 hours later unless a Bitcoin ransom was paid.” The authority said that no ransom was paid to the hacker, despite the “heightened alert” of all those involved. No further incidents were reported by the websites. It is important to note that although players had their play time disrupted, there was no threat – at any time – of their personal or financial information being hacked. Online casinos use state of the art internet security technology to keep all transactions safe and secure, while no personal information can be compromised. The authorities said that while it was not known for sure who the hackers were, they believed that they had an idea who was behind the incident in New Jersey. “He’s a known actor,” said David Rebuck. “He’s done this before.” The cyber-attack had the potential to affect more of the 16 authorized online gambling rooms in New Jersey, many of which work off the same platform as the four that were brought down. This is the first time that hackers have managed to freeze operations in New Jersey, although some overseas sites have reported similar incidents over the years. Last year, a number of top sites in Europe, including PokerStars, were hit by hackers, although damage was minor. A law allowing online gambling in New Jersey was passed at the beginning of 2011 in a bill sponsored by Senator Raymond Lesniak. The law allows land casinos in Atlantic City to apply for online gambling licenses in partnership with established online gambling software companies, and to offer remote gambling to their patrons.