PokerStars Left out of NJ’s iGaming Launch

PokerStars New JerseyResorts will be the only New Jersey casino actively pursuing Internet gambling to not receive approval by the DGE in time for the Nov. 26 launch.

For months, the poker world has been left to wonder if PokerStars would be allowed to reenter the U.S market. On Tuesday, it was provided with a less than definitive answer: Not yet. According to a source affiliated with Resorts Casino in Atlantic City, the online poker behemoth was not approved to be a part of New Jersey’s iGaming launch.

The DGE has scrutinized over the controversial company’s application for months. PokerStars was at the forefront of the Black Friday scandal, and the memory of its prior involvement in the United States doesn’t sit well with some New Jersey state officials.

Compounding matters, former PokerStars director Isai Scheinberg appears to still be involved in Pokerstars’ affairs. As part of a $731 settlement with the Department of Justice, Scheinberg agreed to never again hold a management position with the company.

Scheinberg is currently facing federal indictment for violation of the Illegal Gambling Business Act of 1955 and the UIGEA of 2006. He is also faced with potential money laundering and fraud charges. However, he has managed to avoid charges by remaining outside U.S. jurisdiction.

Shortly after settling with the DoJ, control of PokerStars was handed down to his son, Mark.

PokerStars foray into New Jersey began in early-2013 when it made an ill-fated attempt to buy the struggling Atlantic Club Casino. PokerStars missed a critical application deadline, allowing the Club to opt out of deal. During the subsequent lawsuit, Club representatives noted that Isai was involved in the purchase negotiations – a clear violation of the terms set forth by the DoJ.

Since then, PokerStars has partnered with Resorts. Shortly after their partnership was announced last summer, PokerStars claimed that it was planning on building a $10 million, state-of-the-art poker room within the casino’s grounds. Resorts still plans to move forward with PokerStars, in so long as Isai is not involved.

If anything, PokerStars failed attempt to reenter the United States on November 26th bodes well for the casinos and online providers that have already been approved for licensure. PokerStars is by far the most dominant online poker site in the world, and would serve as a major threat to any other U.S-based online poker room.

The DGE is set to release an updated approval list Wednesday afternoon.  It appears that all four Caesars Entertainment casinos will be included on the list of Atlantic City casinos approved for gaming permits, leaving Resorts and PokerStars as the only entities left out in the cold. Revel and the Atlantic Club are not pursuing iGaming at this time.

NJ’s online gambling soft launch is slated to begin today, at 6 a.m. on November 21st.

Jacqueline Packett
Jacqueline Packett