New Jersey State Senator Ray Lesniak has turned Twitter into his own personal grenade launcher, with his target none other than Governor Chris Christie and his weapon of choice being PokerStars’ projected return to the Garden State.
According to Lesniak (D-Union County), the New Jersey market may have to wait for 2015 for PokerStars to make its reentrance, a reality the senator lays squarely at the feet of Christie. Lesniak fired more complaints in Christie’s direction on Twitter this week, saying that governor was working with Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson to help keep online gambling down in the United States.
“Poker Stars in time out because they would boost AC and hurt Adelson’s attempt in Congress to shut down Egaming,” Lesniak wrote on Twitter. He reiterated that point after a question from another Twitter user, saying that this likely wouldn’t keep PokerStars out of the state forever.
“Christie just giving Adelson time during Congressional lame duck session to kill Egaming,” he continued. Lesniak later said that this was only his opinion, albeit on “based on 37 years of political insight,” rather than a formal pause in the PokerStars licensing process.
The frustrated comments from Lesniak come as it appears that the likely timeline for PokerStars to receive a New Jersey license could be growing longer. According to a report from pokerfuse.com that cites a source close to the situation, the current review of the PokerStars application wouldn’t allow the brand to launch in New Jersey before the end of the year.
That’s in stark contrast to the very optimistic timelines that were being bandied about earlier this year. After the takeover of Amaya Gaming meant that the Scheinbergs were no longer part of the PokerStars management team, it seemed likely that the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) would eventually approve an application from the company, one that had previously been suspended during the first round of online gaming approvals last year.
Amaya and the DGE began talking in June, and all signs seemed to point to steady progress and positive feelings on both sides. PokerStars made moves that suggested a return to the market, such as holding meetings with former players in the state. Then, in September, Lesniak made comments suggesting that the world’s largest poker room would be back in New Jersey in a matter of weeks, and that an announcement could be imminent.
But nearly two months later, there has been no such announcement, and no obvious movement towards a license for PokerStars. The DGE has not made any public comments on the licensing process, either, which has only intensified speculation that there could be political forces behind the delay. Lesniak previously wrote that PokerStars was “waiting on Christie,” and that nothing would happen on that front without Christie’s okay.
If that’s truly the case, there’s at least some reason for speculation that Christie’s delay could be connected back to Adelson. It’s widely assumed that Christie will run for the Republican nomination for president ahead of the 2016 elections, and courting the support of Adelson would go a long way towards funding a primary campaign.
But it’s unclear whether any of this is connected to the PokerStars delays, especially considering Christie’s otherwise supportive stance on Internet gambling, something that runs counter to Adelson’s position.
Meanwhile, Lesniak seems to be fighting gambling-related battles on several fronts. The state senator has also been a strong supporter of New Jersey’s efforts to allow sports betting, and has heavily criticized the NFL and other sports leagues for their attempts to stop that effort. Lesniak has also criticized Visa and other major credit card companies, saying that their lack of cooperation on payment issues has significantly damaged the state’s online gambling revenues.