PokerStars New Jersey – “In Weeks not Months”

PokerStarsThe owner of the Resorts Casino in Atlantic City is being widely reported as saying that PokerStars return to New Jersey will happen “in weeks not months”.

A report of PokerStars being issued an operating license in New Jersey is hardly “new” news. There have been a number of previous false alarms about PokerStars´ return to New Jersey, including those instigated by NJ Senator Ray Lesniak and the CEO of Amaya Gaming – PokerStars´ parent company – David Baazov.

However, a number of news outlets – including the New Jersey Herald and the Washington Times – have reported the owner of the Resorts Casino in Atlantic City, Morris Bailey, as saying that the world´s largest poker site will become licensed in New Jersey in weeks not months.

According to Bailey, he has been told by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE) that its review of PokerStars´ license application has entered its final phases, and a decision should be made soon about the issuing of an operating license. The NJDGE has yet to comment on the latest speculation.

How Many Weeks is “in Weeks”?

Poker players in New Jersey hoping that the news will be confirmed before the end of September should not raise their hopes too much. In December 2013, the NJDGE suspended PokerStars´ application for an online poker license for two years because of the company´s association (at the time) with Isai Scheinberg, who is under a federal indictment.

Even though Scheinberg [geolink href=””]sold his interest in PokerStars[/geolink] to Amaya Gaming in June 2014, the NJDGE has unjustifiably dragged its heels about completing PokerStars´ license application – some suggesting that the delay is due to the influence of NJ Governor Chris Christie, who is trying to supplement his bankroll for a presidential campaign by chummying-up to anti-online gambling campaigner Sheldon Adelson.

If the NJDGE sticks to its “two-year” guns, it would be another fifteen weeks before the suspension is up and PokerStars can expect their license application to be approved. It should also be remembered that Bailey has previously forecast the “imminent” return of PokerStars when the Resorts Casino opened its state-of-the-art i-gaming lounge back in April without apparently looking up the definition of the word.

Will PokerStars be a Savior for Online Poker in New Jersey?

To say that revenues from online poker in New Jersey have been disappointing would be an understatement. Even though Governor Chris Christie´s forecast of $160 million annually in tax revenues was described as “looney tunes” by some critics, even they would have been surprised at just how badly online poker in New Jersey has performed ([geolink href=””]and continues to perform[/geolink]).

Will PokerStars return to New Jersey reverse the trend of declining revenues and decreasing player pools? Unlikely. Most analysts agree that the effect of PokerStars return will be to cannibalize the two existing online poker sites in the Garden State – 888/WSOP and Party/Borgata – and make online poker in New Jersey even less attractive to players.

The current state of online poker in New Jersey is about as good as it is going to get without the state forming compacts with other jurisdictions that have regulated online poker. As neither Party/Borgata nor PokerStars has anybody in Nevada to pair up with (PokerStars is excluded from Nevada because of the state´s “bad actor” clause), an interstate compact is not something that is going to happen in the near future.

The likely scenario is that there will be a spike in interest when PokerStars eventually does get its licensing application approved, and then the level of traffic will fall off again. Depending on the outcome of the Bwin.Party takeover talks, there is likely to be three online poker sites competing the same market as exists now by the New Year, with the value of promotions and tournaments decreasing as player numbers decline.

Jacqueline Packett
Jacqueline Packett