The world’s favourite online poker room, PokerStars, is finally making its long awaited return to the United States when it launches its new site in New Jersey on the 21st of March this year. PokerStars halted all online gambling services in 2011 after the notorious Black Friday incident. Now however, PokerStars customers who are physically located within New Jersey’s borders will be able to gamble online in the US thanks to the new legal poker site.
The news that PokerStars operations will officially begin on the 21st March has been welcomed by US poker fans, who have not been able to legally play on the popular PokerStars site since 2011.
The site will be limited to New Jersey, a state which has eighteen online gambling sites registered currently. PokerStars will undergo testing by new Jersey state regulators before it launches.
PokerStars is owned and controlled by Amaya Inc. which acts as the site’s parent company. It is a multi-national corporation which owns gambling brands with over 100 million registered customers worldwide. Amaya was given the green light by New Jersey gambling regulators back in September 2015 when they applied to a license to enter the state’s internet gambling market.
The chairman and CEO of Amaya, David Baazov, commented on the move, saying “PokerStars is the global leader in online poker and trusted by its customers for its robust and innovative technology, world-class security and game integrity. We are honored and excited to now bring these experiences to New Jersey.”
The New Jersey PokerStars site will offer not only poker, but also online table games and slot machine games as well.
PokerStars had previously been attempting to break into the US online poker market for several years, but unsuccessfully. They tried twice in 2013 to get acquire an online gambling license in New Jersey, however the state’s Division of Gaming Enforcement suspended the company for two years, claiming to have found legal issues with the PokerStars brand’s former corporate officials before Amaya took over. The company individuals who were involved in PokerStars’ acceptance of bets in the US after the government made it illegal to take monetary payments were forced to step down as part of the company’s sale to Amaya. These executives were questioned in connection with illegal online gambling activities in the US and made the new PokerStars New Jersey deal more problematic.
PokerStars consequently paid a fine of $547 million to the Department of Justice but didn’t admit any wrongdoing on their part. The Amaya corporation is also currently battling a demand made by a Kentucky judge that it pay reparations of $870 million for PokerStars taking bets from 2006 to 2011 in a state where casino gambling is effectively illegal. The company has put forward an appeal this week of Kentucky’s ruling and have not yet agreed to pay the fine.
The state of New Jersey requires that internet gambling companies must join with an existing land based brick-and-mortar casino in Atlantic City in order to legally offer online gambling. PokerStars initially tried to purchase the Atlantic Club Casino, but the proposed deal fell apart and the casino then ended up closing down in early 2014. As a result, PokerStars joined with Resorts Casino Hotel and have used the connection to move forward with their online gambling plans.
The launch of PokerStars is hoped to give New Jersey’s online gambling market a huge and much needed boost. The state took in $149 million last year in its second full year of running online gambling sites, which was an increase of more than 21% compared to the previous fiscal year. As well as more variety in online sites, most poker experts agree that a wider player base within New Jersey is much more important.
Currently, New Jersey state law still restricts online gambling to customers located within the state’s borders, which allows for the option of multi-state player pools. In the US, only three states permit online gambling: New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware. It is expected that more states, such as California and Pennsylvania will hopefully follow suit.