Poker media have been agog over the impact that PokerStars may have in New Jersey once gaming regulators approve an online gaming license.
Speculation has run the gamut of the industry giant extending its worldwide dominance to New Jersey, while the glass half empty crowd have expressed opinions that the market already is established and PokerStars’ entry may turn out to have the effect of a mere ripple. While respect must be afforded to both lines of thought, the truth of the matter is that reality probably lies somewhere in the middle.
While PokerStars’ dominance in online poker throughout the rest of the world is undeniable, that strength comes from the fact that the pool of players available come from regions throughout the globe that have not established ring-fenced restrictions. At present, the New Jersey market is operating on an intrastate format that does impose those restrictions.
Keep in mind that players at the sites operating in New Jersey at this time may be pleased with the loyalty programs to which they belong and may not want to change anytime soon. By the time PokerStars does enter the Garden State, those sites will have had almost a year to establish a customer base and retain a loyal following. It’s likely that a number of those poker sites have succeeded in doing so.
While regular grinders tend to remain loyal to online poker rooms where profits through VIP programs and on the tables have become established and steady, recreational players are cut from a different cloth and usually aim for the site that offers the most fun. PokerStars does know how to offer pleasure to the casual crowd via milestone hand promotions and the like. But the online poker giant can expect stiff competition in that regard from WSOP.com, the Party Borgata Network, and the All American Poker Network.
Speaking of casual players, a good number of whom don’t follow the industry regularly and play online poker only when the itch to do so appears, it’s likely that many don’t understand what all the fuss is about over PokerStars being allowed in the Garden State. Although the name recognition of PokerStars is widespread, so to is the fact that PokerStars was previously shut down in the U.S. That fact may preclude some recreational players from feeling safe playing there even though regulations will legally be in place.
My opinion is that PokerStars’ entry in New Jersey will not become a big deal until the state partners with a number of other states in interstate compacts that will allow poker sites to be comprised of players throughout regulated states in the U.S. At that time, PokerStars’ skill in marketing to a large prospective clientele will win out over its competition as is the case worldwide currently.
Until then, in a restricted New Jersey market, PokerStars will find its place. But that place won’t necessarily be as top dog of the market despite the majority of industry prognosticators who tend to think otherwise.