Resorts AC: New Jersey PokerStars Decision “In Weeks, Not Months”

Posted on August 28, 2015

PokerStars will find out whether it will be able to operate in New Jersey within “weeks, not months,” according to the owner of Resorts AC.

PokerStars, for real this time?

The idea that the status of PokerStars’ license would be resolved in the near future has actually been going on for months. This time around, it appears the world’s largest online poker site might finally stop getting the runaround, according to the owner of Resorts in Atlantic City. Resorts is PokerStars’ land-based partner for receiving an online gaming license in New Jersey.

From a story by The Associated Press:

Morris Bailey says New Jersey Gaming Enforcement Division has indicated the much-delayed review of PokerStars has entered its final phases.

He says a decision should be rendered soon on whether its new parent company, Amaya Gaming, should become licensed to conduct Internet gambling in New Jersey.

Interestingly, the news is not accompanied by the idea that PokerStars will definitely be approved; Bailey just tells us that the final disposition of its license application will be announced. Does that mean the license could be in jeopardy?

Third quarter, as predicted

Back in a March earnings call, Amaya CEO David Baazov said a PokerStars New Jersey launch would come in the third quarter. Back then, though, it was not couched as just learning the decision.

“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.”

The statement from Resorts also comes on the heels of State Sen. Raymond Lesniak hedging his bets on when a decision would come:

When asked for a timetable, Lesniak was loath to make another prediction (having been wrong several times in the past when he gave a firm date), but did say he continues to hear, “It will very likely happen in short order.”

If PokerStars is coming, what’s next?

Once PokerStars enters the market, it will obviously have an immediate impact, and it could easily become the No. 1 operator in relatively short order, if things break right.

Online Poker Report’s analysis notes that a PokerStars’ entrance has the potential to turn around the online poker market in New Jersey, which has underwhelmed so far.

PokerStars has a powerful brand, but it will still have to spend heavily to acquire customers. Despite that fact, many are bullish on PokerStars and what it could mean to the iGaming market in New Jersey.

If PokerStars isn’t coming, what’s next?

There still isn’t a concrete reason to believe PokerStars is not going to get its license, but even Lesniak isn’t sure what the final outcome will be. From an interview with Lesniak at Card Player:

BP: Awhile ago you were talking about the idea that Gov. Christie was sort of delaying PokerStars being licensed. Since his odds are looking pretty slim these days in the presidential race, do you think that plays any role in the licensing process speeding up?

RL: (Laughs). No, I don’t think so. I just think that every single rock has been overturned and looked at, and scoped thoroughly, and there is really nothing more to do than to make a decision.

If the license isn’t coming, will PokerStars have recourse to appeal that decision? Or is that simply game over in New Jersey? We may find out as soon as next month.

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Dustin Gouker

Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner. He has played poker recreationally for his entire adult life and has written about online poker and the online gambling industry since 2008.

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