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PokerStars To Launch In New Jersey Next Month

Amaya Says That Real-Money Launch To Come Mar. 21


The launch date for PokerStars in New Jersey is finally known.

Amaya Gaming, the parent of PokerStars and its affiliated brands, said Thursday that it expects to “initially launch” PokerStars in the Garden State on Monday, Mar. 21. Though Montreal-based Amaya has long done business in New Jersey, the state gave the PokerStars platform a license just last fall.

The company was vague last year, saying that it expected to launch PokerStars sometime in the first half of 2016. Fortunately for poker fans, that is coming true. It’s great news because the process to get PokerStars back in America has taken nearly five years.

Amaya added that it expects to conduct an interim testing period with the state Division of Gaming Enforcement and a beta period for a limited player base beginning in mid-March. The real-money games will be available from

In order to offer online poker to those physically within New Jersey (no liquidity sharing yet with international markets), PokerStars had to partner with one of Atlantic City’s remaining eight brick-and-mortar casinos. A couple of years ago there were 12 to chose from, but Atlantic City’s casino gambling market has taken a huge hit, resulting in four closings in 2014. The hope is that PokerStars will give the struggling city a boost.

“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,” said David Baazov, Chairman and CEO of Amaya. “We’re also thankful to Morris Bailey and the fine team at Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City and look forward to a successful collaboration.”

Bailey added that "we expect that the launch of PokerStars will further spur the positive momentum we have already made in the New Jersey online gaming market.”

PokerStars, which was founded in 2001 by Isai and Mark Scheinberg, has nearly 70 percent of the worldwide online poker market and 100 million registered players, Amaya said recently.

Thanks to New Jersey’s robust online gaming regulations, PokerStars will actually be able to offer more than just peer-to-peer poker. Amaya said that PokerStars will have blackjack, roulette, baccarat, video poker and slots.

It’s been a long road for the world’s largest poker site to re-enter some portion of American cyberspace after getting booted in April 2011 in the event that everyone knows as Black Friday.

The company settled with the federal government in 2012 for $731 million without admitting wrongdoing and that same year was vying to enter New Jersey by making a bid to buy a casino in Atlantic City. That deal fell through roughly six months later, and the casino PokerStars was attempting to save eventually ended up closing its doors.

In the summer of 2014, Amaya acquired PokerStars and its sister site Full Tilt Poker for $4.9 billion in a move that better positioned the platform to receive a New Jersey license. Amaya announced this month that PokerStars and Full Tilt will be merging.

The launch of PokerStars in New Jersey next month couldn’t come at a better time for a state that is considering taking over the finances of a casino city on the verge of bankruptcy.

Though New Jersey online casinos won $148.9 million from gamblers in 2015, up 21.2 percent from the $122.88 million won in 2014, poker play fell 18.1 percent on the year, going from $29.1 million in 2014 to $23.82 million in 2015.

The two leading online poker platforms in New Jersey at the moment are from Caesars’ WSOP and the Borgata casino. PokerStars is expected to compete for the top spot right away.

A New Jersey launch also comes at a great time for PokerStars. In addition to the lucrative California online poker market continuing to be inaccessible, the platform is appealing a $870 million judgement in Kentucky. That state wants PokerStars to give it $870 million for raking just $18 million from Kentuckians between 2006 and 2011. The damages award “is notable only for its absurdity," PokerStars said. PokerStars emerged as the winner in a similar case in Illinois.