Although there have been no clear statements on the matter from anyone directly involved, more and more clues are pointing towards PokerStars receiving approval from New Jersey regulators, perhaps sooner than later. The latest innuendo comes from a move by Pala Interactive, which has decided to put its Pala Poker online poker launch “on hold” in New Jersey.
Pala Interactive, owned by California’s Pala Band of Mission Indians, partnered with Borgata Atlantic City to launch PalaCasino.com in November of last year. At that time, the operator expected to launch its online poker venue, Pala Poker, as early as the first quarter of 2015. According to Jim Ryan, the Chief Executive Officer for Pala Interactive, those plans have changed.
In an interviewed with CalvinAyre.com’s Becky Liggero, Ryan was asked how Pala’s strategies and revenue flow might be effected if PokerStars were to be approved for launch in New Jersey. Ryan explained that the plan was to go ahead with Pala Poker in Q1 2015, but that due to the potential launch of PokerStars, they’ve “put that on hold”.
Ryan said of its online poker product, “by and large it’s ready to go.” However, he went on to say that, “We put that on hold because we do expect PokerStars to enter the market”.
He admitted that Pala didn’t expect to grab a substantial share of the New Jersey market in the first place. “Because there are two very credible poker networks operating in the state of New Jersey at this point in time, liquidity is obviously a challenge,” he said. “We’ve seen one poker network already exit the marketplace,” referencing the closure of UltimatePoker and UltimateCasino in New Jersey last year.
The CEO said their objectives with the online casino and poker products are different. “The casino product, we actually think we can take a meaningful share of that marketplace.” Ryan said they believe their casino product will be just as good as any other in the state, and as such, they’ll do just fine in that regard. “The poker challenge is a bit deeper,” said Ryan, “especially on the back of a PokerStars entry.”
Jim Ryan says Pala Poker will launch in New Jersey, but not at this time. He believes they should continue working on their online poker client and prepare for a launch in California when the time comes, “where we do have a brand, where we do have a database”. He said, “it is about building for the future with the poker launch in New Jersey.”
Other indications PokerStars NJ is on the Horizon
Last week, Resorts Casino of Atlantic City received a transactional waiver from the DGE to launch an online casino in New Jersey. Resorts aligned with PokerStars in 2013 to launch an online poker site in the Garden State. But when PokerStars’ license application was suspended (prior to being bought out by Amaya Gaming), Resorts put its plans on hold.
Since Amaya’s acquisition of Rational Group in mid-2014, PokerStars’ application has been under review by the DGE. The status has remained unchanged for months now, then suddenly last week, Resorts chose to go ahead with its online casino launch. Again, no declarations have been made that PokerStars is about to receive long-awaited approval in New Jersey, but all signs do seem to be pointing in that direction.