When Amaya purchased PokerStars as a part of their takeover of Rational Gaming, it was clear that the plan was to bring the poker giant back to the United States. After all, PokerStars was once a major player in the American market, and it would undoubtedly be a popular option if it were to appear again. But while the new ownership situation was likely to help, there was no clear timetable for when PokerStars might return to US jurisdictions.
Now, we might have a date for that comeback. According to a report in NJPokerOnline, PokerStars and Full Tilt will soon receive approval to open for business in New Jersey. That information, which also includes a tentative launch date of early in the fourth quarter of 2014, is attributed to sources in New Jersey. However, it has not been confirmed by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) or any other officials.
But if the report is accurate, it means that the New Jersey online poker marketplace is in for a major shakeup later this year. PokerStars has a level of brand recognition and consumer trust that few other poker brands can compete with. While other players like Caesars’ World Series of Poker (WSOP) site and the Borgata/PartyPoker site have grabbed solid market share and have had a year to get a head start, PokerStars will be likely to join that top tier of New Jersey Internet poker rooms, if not surpass them.
How exactly PokerStars and Full Tilt would gain their licenses is an interesting question in its own right. PokerStars has already made previous efforts to enter the New Jersey market: they failed in an attempt to buy the Atlantic Club Casino, and then partnered with the Resorts Casino Hotel to provide online gambling services. However, the DGE did not give PokerStars a license last year, instead suspending their application.
Meanwhile, Amaya already provides some online gaming services in the state. Through their Ongame poker network and other products, the company is partnered with Caesars, Borgata, the Golden Nugget and Trump Plaza.
According to the latest report, the DGE is not prepared to reopen PokerStars’ licensing application at this time, though the agency has said that the purchase by Amaya is a positive step towards reconsideration. Instead, it seems that the easier path may be to simply adjust Amaya’s current licensing agreements in order to allow them to offer PokerStars and Full Tilt products as well.
It’s unclear if this would mean Amaya would now work with Resorts as well in order to maintain that casino’s agreement with PokerStars. There’s also no word on how the Full Tilt brand, which now includes a large suite of casino games along with its poker offering, would be worked into the New Jersey online gambling market.
Both PokerStars and Full Tilt were formerly properties of Rational Gaming. Earlier this summer, Rational was purchased by Amaya for $4.9 billion. As a part of that takeover, Mark and Isai Scheinberg resigned their positions with Rational, which was seen as a key factor in helping PokerStars and Full Tilt return to US markets.