If we go by the word of the CEO of Amaya Gaming and the CEO of Resorts Casino, the long-awaited return of PokerStars to the United States is nearly upon us.
Amaya CEO David Baazov was the first person to let the cat out of the bag, when he informed investors during a recent conference call that the company expected PokerStars to be licensed by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement and launch their online poker site in conjunction with Resorts Casino in Q3 of this year – putting PokerStars’ entry into New Jersey between July 1 and September 30.
The other half of the PokerStars/Resorts partnership chimed in on PokerStars license application process last Thursday, when Resorts CEO Morris Bailey said regulators were close to making a decision on PokerStars, and Resorts would be “pleased” with the decision. Bailey made the announcement at the ribbon-cutting ceremony of Resorts’ new iGaming Lounge, a first of its kind on-property area dedicated to online gambling.
With both CEOs talking about timetables publicly, this is starting to look like the real deal.
PokerStars is coming to New Jersey.
PokerStars-branded poker room still in the cards
Bailey also dropped another interesting bit of information during his comments at the grand opening of the iGaming lounge, confirming the longstanding rumors that Resorts will break ground on a PokerStars-branded poker room when the company’s license is approved.
The idea of a PokerStars brick and mortar poker room first surfaced when the two companies partnered back in 2013. At the time there was talk of PokerStars building a $10 million brick and mortar poker room at Resorts Casino. It appears this is still very much a part of their plans.
If PokerStars can live up to the expectations online poker players have placed on the company and ascend to the top of the NJ legal online gambling market, the new Resorts/PokerStars brick and mortar poker room could be a huge success, and could inject new life into what is the city’s oldest casino, particularly among a younger demographic.
Resorts would also likely play host to PokerStars-branded tournament series at Resorts – tournaments that are likely to attract some of the biggest names in the poker world (such as Team PokerStars pros Jason Somerville and Daniel Negreanu) and create a major buzz around the Resorts/PokerStars cash game tables.
Using the iGaming lounge
The iGaming lounge is an interesting development, and one that not everybody in the poker community seems to fully understand.
After all, why would a land-based casino invite people to play online?
There are actually several answers to this question.
- First and foremost the lounge can be a lounge, and act as a fun area to grab a drink and chat.
- The lounge can serve as a promotional tool to register new online accounts.
- It can also be a tech support/troubleshooting area.
- It can be a demonstration area where players can be the first to test new games.
- And finally, it could be used as a meeting area, if Resorts/PokerStars decide to continue PokerStars’ longstanding tradition of hosting player meetups.
This space has a lot of potential uses, and it appears that Resorts is embracing online gaming in a way other casinos have not.
The sun is shining on Resorts right now
With their PokerStars partnership finally about to pay dividends, a new brick and mortar poker room in the works, and the launch of their dedicated and ultra-hip iGaming lounge, Resorts could very well be ground zero for the convergence of online and live gaming.
Despite being one of the last casinos to arrive at the iGaming party, Resorts seems to be leading the way when it comes to creating a live/online synergy. Perhaps Resorts learned from other operators’ early missteps, and is willing to take a risk other operators weren’t.
Of course it helps to have PokerStars in your corner when you decide to take risks of this sort.