It appears technical issues with PokerStars‘ New Jersey VIP program are forcing its hand.
The NJ online poker site planned to roll out the global version of its reward program, Stars Rewards, in New Jersey later this year. It seems it may be happening sooner rather than later.
At the end of July, PokerStars Head of Customer Loyalty Dylan Coady, posted about the technical glitches in a thread on the popular Two Plus Two Poker forum. Coady wrote:
“I wanted to provide an update on the VIP Club/VIP Steps issue. As I’m sure you’re aware, we haven’t been able to fix the lack of surfacing of the program in the NJ client. I won’t bore you with the technical details, but the issue was unforeseen and stems from maintaining two programs (VIP Club in New Jersey, Stars Rewards everywhere else) at the same time. At this stage, we don’t expect to fix the issue before we are in fact able to launch the new Stars Rewards program in New Jersey later this year.”
StarsRewards set to launch later this year
Since his initial post, Coady has remained somewhat active on the forum even taking suggestions from players.
“This situation is far from ideal, so I appreciate your understanding. The bonus window idea an interesting suggestion that I hadn’t thought of. Will investigate and see if there’s some type of solution that would help you track your monthly progress.”
The fact that PokerStars NJ is still investigating the fix alludes to the idea that maybe Stars Rewards isn’t quite ready to roll out in New Jersey just yet.
PlayNJ reached out to PokerStars for a comment and received the following response from a company representative via email:
“We can confirm that we intend to launch Stars Rewards in New Jersey by the end of the year and will offer rewards for all our NJ customers’ activity (poker, casino, and sports), but a specific launch date cannot yet be confirmed.”
In the meantime, PokerStars is making amends to affected New Jersey poker players by awarding StarsCoin credit.
Comparing PokerStars old and new VIP programs
There was a lot of controversy surrounding the global change to the PokerStars VIP program. Last fall, the poker site suddenly announced it was canceling player rewards for its highest volume players and rolling out a new program.
Needless to say, poker players were not happy with the changes.
The old VIP program rewarded players by volume of play. The higher the volume, the more a player would earn.
Players would accumulate StarsCoin and then use the StarsCoin to buy a myriad of prizes. The rewards ranged from tournament tickets to cash to travel packages to various international tournament stops.
The Stars Rewards program, which rolled out late last year on the PokerStars global platform, does not put as much of a focus on volume. Instead, the new rewards program uses the stakes of the game, the frequency of play, and the amount of a players deposits into consideration.
Players earn points that are good for access to a chest full of randomly-awarded prizes. The new Stars Rewards program tailors the prize options to the individual and their activity on the site.
Notice the mention of ‘sports’
A rewards program tailored based on a player’s activity makes sense with NJ sports betting in full swing. In fact, we couldn’t help but notice the word “sports” in the response from PokerStars.
Last week, Resorts Atlantic City announced an extension of its partnership with The Stars Group.
The two companies first joined forces in March 2016 to bring online poker to the Garden State. Now, they are collaborating to launch mobile and online sports betting through BetStars.
BetStars is PokerStars’ European-focused online sports betting brand. That focus is likely to expand as it enters the nascent US sports betting market.
It appears PokerStars has big plans for sports betting, too. In a press release announcing the partnership extension, The Stars Group said:
“The company anticipates providing over time, subject to required regulatory approvals, a wide range of betting products including in-play wagering, bespoke accumulators, and live streaming, as well as an ecosystem of free-to-play products and promotions and sports content, for dozens of sports, including professional and NCAA football, basketball, and baseball as well as horse racing, hockey, soccer, tennis and other sporting markets.”
Knowing that sports betting is on the horizon for the company, one might speculate that the rollout of a new VIP program in New Jersey will coincide with the launch of BetStars.
The company isn’t saying more at this time though. Considering we are in the second half of the year, and football is already in preseason, chances are we won’t have long to wait to find out.