Ray Lesniak Says PokerStars Return Close at Hand

September 16th, 2014 | by Kaycee James
Ray Lesniak talks PokerStars return

State Senator Ray Lesniak says that PokerStars could return to New Jersey in a matter of weeks. (Image: Patti Sapone/The Star-Ledger)

PokerStars appears to be on the fast track towards returning to the New Jersey market. Regulators have reacted positively to the company’s takeover by Amaya Gaming, and recent actions by PokerStars suggest a New Jersey launch could be imminent. Now, offhand statements by a local politician have poker fans excepting that return to come sooner rather than later.

State Senator Ray Lesniak (D-20th District) hinted at a quick return for PokerStars to New Jersey on Twitter last week, further encouraging speculation that the world’s most popular online poker site would be back in the Garden State this fall. Furthermore, Lesniak’s comments suggested that the timeline for such a return could be accelerated, meaning that an announcement could be coming in the near future.

New Jersey Poker Players Told to “Stay Tuned”

“PokerStars launch will spark an AC revival. Stay tuned for a major announcement,” Lesniak tweeted to his followers on Thursday. If there was any doubt as to what Lesniak was trying to say, it was removed a few hours later when he tweeted “With PokerStars in NJ we’re on our way to being the Silicon Valley of Internet gaming.”

Lesniak has long been a proponent of online poker and casino games for New Jersey, and so it comes as little surprise that he’s in favor of having PokerStars be a part of the market there. He also seemed to be excited to have the company get started in the state as soon as possible, saying that an announcement (and perhaps a launch) could occur “in weeks, not months.”

Player Pool Sharing Could Be in the Cards

Lesniak’s comments inevitably led to plenty of talk on Twitter about the specifics of how and when PokerStars might be able to start offering online poker in New Jersey. Some asked questions about whether Lesniak’s comment also hinted at interstate poker, either through compacts or by letting other states opt in to a New Jersey gambling network. Lesniak responded to that speculation by tweeting “soon to be countries,” which suggested that international compacts might be possible as well.

The senator then clarified some of his comments in an interview with PokerNews.

“The next step is to go international with Internet gaming,” Lesniak said. “That’s the third shoe that’s going to drop.”

Lesniak was referring to a series of moves that have been made to help bolster Atlantic City, which has struggled with declining gambling revenues and the closure of at least four casinos this year. The declaration by Governor Chris Christie that the state’s casinos and racetracks could offer sports betting without fear of legal action was another major step.

Lesniak believes the introduction of PokerStars to the market could be one as well, and says that the company’s impact could go well beyond online poker.

“It’s going to be soon and it’s going to be huge,” Lesniak said. “PokerStars is going to make a huge investment in Atlantic City, not just in Internet gaming but in their brand and in bringing attractions to Atlantic City.”

For instance, Lesniak said that international poker events that were similar to golf’s Ryder Cup could be coming to Atlantic City thanks to PokerStars. That could be a reference to the World Cup of Poker, an event that is normally scheduled to take place at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, but which was already being hinted to move to a new location going forward. Last month, PokerStars formally registered a trademark for the World Cup of Poker in the United States.


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