PokerStars is finally cleared to launch in the Garden State.
The biggest online poker operator in the world was approved for an online gaming license in New Jersey, bringing a close to a process that was more than three years in the making.
PokerStars, which hasn’t served the United States market since April 2011 (Black Friday for online poker), is able to offer online poker in the state immediately.
What we know so far
Amaya announced the approval of its gaming license late on Wednesday night, after what it called an “unprecedented review” by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement in a press release.
David Baazov, Chairman and CEO of Amaya, had this to say in a press release:
“We are very pleased to add New Jersey to the long list of regulated markets that have found PokerStars and Full Tilt suitable to offer real-money online gaming. I want to thank the DGE for their thorough and fair review of our business. We look forward to bringing our popular brands, innovative technology, marketing prowess and world-class security and game integrity to the growing New Jersey online gaming market. We anticipate providing additional details of our launch plans in the near future.”
The release mentioned both PokerStars and Full Tilt, so it appears that the Full Tilt brand will also be leveraged in New Jersey, either as a casino, a poker room or both.
Despite the fact that Amaya had already been licensed as a B2B provider in New Jersey, the license for PokerStars took a long time, something that Amaya noted in its statement on the license approval:
The DGE’s review of PokerStars was extremely thorough and exhaustive, including a detailed review of Amaya’s operations and technology, sworn interviews with more than 70 individuals and visits to approximately a half dozen international jurisdictions. This stringent review found PokerStars to be under strong, ethical and trusted ownership and management with Amaya, and worthy of participating in New Jersey’s regulated online gaming market.
The license comes under the banner of Resorts AC, which already has two active online casinos: One under its own name, and the other under Mohegan Sun, which operates Resorts in Atlantic City.
The long road to New Jersey for PokerStars
PokerStars has been attempting to enter the New Jersey online gaming since late in 2012, with plans to buy The Atlantic Club in Atlantic City to give the site a foothold in the state. That sale fell through, and PokerStars has been looking for a way to enter the regulated market ever since it opened in late 2013.
PokerStars finally found a land-based partner in Resorts in October of last year — a necessity for requesting a license to offer online poker and gambling in New Jersey.
But even after that partnership was struck, it took nine months from when a petition was filed until the license was finally granted.
Speculation ran rampant about why PokerStars’ license was held up, including the possibility that Gov. Chris Christie was behind it. But after PokerStars’ parent company revealed earlier this year that it believed its license would be approved in the third quarter, that came to fruition.
The impact of PokerStars
PokerStars will likely compete immediately for the number one spot in the regulated New Jersey online gambling market. However, the recent acquisition of bwin.party by 888 means PokerStars could have more competition for marketshare than it might have expected, or would have encountered had it entered the market earlier.
One would expect to see a huge push with promotions and guaranteed prize pools off the bat, but a better indicator of PokerStars’ staying power will be seen in the months that follow its much anticipated launch.