The regulated U.S. online poker market just got interesting. The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement announced on Wednesday that they have approved Amaya, Inc. for a transactional waiver to operate online gambling services in the state. That means that PokerStars and Full Tilt have been approved to return to NJ.
This moment has been over two years in the making as PokerStars has failed on multiple occasions to secure a license in the state. The “third time is a charm” cliché definitely applies in this case and now citizens just have to wait for the launch of the client.
What Will PokerStars NJ Look Like?
To be clear, PokerStars is only licensed to operate in New Jersey. That means that only those physically located in New Jersey will be playing on PokerStars NJ. Any suggestions that international players would be part of the PokerStars NJ player pool are exaggerated.
Next, it is unclear at this time whether both PokerStars and Full Tilt will offer online poker or if Full Tilt will focus primarily on casino games. The shift of Full Tilt’s business operations in the last year would suggest that the company want to put more focus on casino games and that is what could happen in New Jersey.
Also, expect PokerStars to begin marketing campaigns in New Jersey in the next few days to a couple of weeks. They will want to move ahead with educating the public that they are returning to New Jersey and will get the world out in all forms of live and online media.
Don’t expect PokerStars to poach on other online poker sites and their players. Instead, look for them to try and generate organic traffic to their site. That doesn’t mean there still won’t be players jumping ship to PokerStars, but that is not their goal. Their goal is to grow their own player base and subsequently the New Jersey online poker market.
If you’re looking for free bonus or signup money and will be in New Jersey around they time they launch, we suggest you pay attention to their promotions. Those signing up in the first three months of launch will likely enjoy generous benefits including free money at signup and excellent welcome bonuses.
How Will This Impact California?
The return of PokerStars to the U.S. market via New Jersey will start to apply pressure to the Pechanga and other groups resisting PokerStars in California. If PokerStars return results in a major positive turnaround for the New Jersey online poker market, expect that pressure to spread to within the tribes that oppose them.
PokerStars has already proven that they will do whatever it takes to return to the regulated marketplace, including selling out to Amaya. They have spent freely in advertising in California and New Jersey and will soon start to see the rewards of their efforts.
We also expect PokerStars to ramp up their efforts in California now that they have a U.S. foothold. They will encourage players to support online poker and pressure lawmakers and could even call on their customers in New Jersey to join the fight.
Will online poker regulation speed up in California due to PokerStars’ return in NJ? Absolutely. To what degree it speeds up is another question. We expect significant progress to be made in 2016 regarding bad actors and allowing the horse racing industry to participate.
Prior to this development, we had estimated California to be a longshot to pass next year. Now we will adjust that to more of a 60% chance in favor of passing. If not in 2016, we feel it will definitely get there in 2017.