We Want To Believe: PokerStars Boss Predicts Fall Launch In NJ

Written By Steve Ruddock on April 1, 2015 - Last Updated on May 16, 2015

PokerStars is a company that tends to be tight-lipped and conservative with public talk about future plans, which is why the revelations made during Tuesday’s conference call made by Amaya Gaming CEO David Baazov garnered so much attention throughout the day.

Of particular note to online poker players was the company offering its first public timetable for entry into the New Jersey online poker market. Up until this point the company has stuck with tried and true PR lines such as, “we’re working with regulators to conform to all of their directives,” and “no comment.”

But this time was different.

“As it relates to New Jersey I would say that we feel that this is coming […] we would expect to receive and launch in the next quarter,” David Baazov stated during the conference call.

Chris Grove of OnlinePokerReport.com later confirmed that Baazov was speaking of Q3 (July-September) of 2015, and not Q2 which technically begins on April 1.

This is huge news for New Jersey online poker players who have been eagerly anticipating the company’s return to the U.S., and for the New Jersey online poker market itself which could use a shot of PokerStars’ adrenaline at this point.

PokerStars pre-Amaya

Since Amaya Gaming finalized the purchase of PokerStars, the company has found itself in a perpetual holding pattern high up in the New Jersey sky.

PokerStars originally was interested in purchasing the flailing Atlantic Club Casino in Atlantic City. That deal went sour fast (ending in a courtroom) and PokerStars moved on to plan b, a partnership with Resorts Casino.

Unfortunately, the lingering concerns over upper management caused the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement to suspend the company’s license application for up to two years in December of 2013, and it looked like yet another door into the regulated online poker market in the United States was closed to PokerStars.

PokerStars post-Amaya

But all that changed with the sale of the company to Amaya Gaming in June of 2014, and the DGE reopened PokerStars’ license application per Division Head David Rebuck, who said, “The DGE lab’s investigation will continue as we ensure the platform is adapted to comply with New Jersey’s regulations,” following the announced sale.

The company filed for a transactional waiver with Resorts Casino in October of 2014, and many people thought a license would be issued in the following weeks. But those weeks have now stretched into months, with nary a whisper from PokerStars or the DGE, which led to all sorts of speculation, inside and outside of the poker world.

Baazov’s comments during Tuesday’s call indicate that whatever has been causing the delays has finally been resolved.

So while plenty of people have offered up timelines for when PokerStars’ foray into the New Jersey online casino market would begin, this is the first time (to my knowledge) that PokerStars has announced any sort of timeline for launch in New Jersey.

This doesn’t make it a certainty, but Baazov has proven to be very guarded and careful with his public comments. If I was a betting man I’d put a healthy wager on PokerStars being licensed by the end of September.

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Steve Ruddock

Steve covers nearly every angle of online poker in his job as a full-time freelance poker writer. His primary focus is the developing legal and legislative picture for regulated US online poker and gambling.

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