PokerStars New Jersey License in Closing Stages

April 17th, 2015 | by Greg Shaun
PokerStars New Jersey deal in closing stages.

Resorts AC owner Morris Bailey has stated that the licensing process for PokerStars in New Jersey is in its final stages. (Image: atlanticcitynj.com)

PokerStars long-awaited return to the US igaming market is closer than ever before according to the owner of Resorts Hotel & Casino, Morris Bailey.

Following a deal with PokerStars back in 2014, Resorts has been working with local gaming officials to assist the online poker operator’s route back into at least one state.

PokerStars famously left the US market in 2011 after the Department of Justice (DOJ) forced the site to close because of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA).

Since exiting the market, PokerStars has been forced to watch from the sidelines while many of its competitors moved into newly regulated markets, including: New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware.

New Regime, New Hope

One of the main reasons PokerStars was excluded from the US market was the presence of Isai Scheinberg as the head of the company. Having been indicted by the DOJ, Scheinberg was barred from entering and operating a business in the US.

However, after the Israeli founder of PokerStars stepped aside and sold his company to David Baazov and Amaya Inc. it opened the door for a possible return to the US.

In fact, one of Baazov’s mission statements when he took over the company was that he wanted to make a move into New Jersey. The Canadian CEO reconfirmed this during a recent summary of PokerStars’ financial performance in Q4 of 2014.

Speaking at the end of March, Baazov said that he is confident the site will go live in the Garden State in the autumn.

“As it relates to New Jersey I would say that we feel that this is coming. We would expect to receive and launch in the next quarter,” read a statement from Baazov. 

This statement followed a tweet from New Jersey Senator Ray Lesniak said in 2015 who believed a deal would be done in March (this subsequently proved not to be the case).

“Chris Grove: @SenatorLesniak What about PokerStars – how’s that appeal going?

Senator Ray Lesniak: @OPReport March 2015,” Lesniak tweeted.

Fresh Hope for PokerStars NJ from Bailey

Between Lesniak’s prediction and Baazov’s statement, many have remained skeptical as to when, or indeed if, PokerStars will ever be licensed to operate in the US.

However, a fresh message from PokerStars’ live casino partner has given New Jersey residents fresh hope that a launch date is approaching.

Addressing members of the press during the official unveiling of ResortsCasino.com, the owner of the Atlantic City casino, Bailey, told reporters that a deal is closer.

This message was quickly filtered through the airwaves by AC press member, Reuben Kramer who tweeted that the finishing touches are now being applied to the deal.

“Resorts owner Morris Bailey says regulators r close 2 finishing PokerStars approval process, sez he expects 2 be pleased w/outcome #acpress,” tweeted Reuben Kramer of the Atlantic City Press.

Although there was no more information forthcoming, the news created a buzz across the community; especially after Kramer informed people that Resorts is preparing to open a dedicated poker room within its property to celebrate the deal.

“Bailey says Resorts will build big PokerStars poker room if PokerStars approved #acpress,” tweeted the AC reporter.

This innovation would be similar to PokerStars’ deals in other countries whereby it has a branded poker room inside a major casino. As well as creating a new place for poker fans to ante-up in Atlantic City, the room would also serve as a point of connection between the company’s online and offline assets.

As with all things connected to regulation in the US, nothing is certain until a deal is signed but this could be the biggest sign yet that PokerStars will be back in the US within the coming months.

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