According to an article by Jennifer Newell of NJPokerOnline that appeared on Tuesday, PokerStars and Full Tilt could be prepared to launch online poker websites in New Jersey as early as October 1st, 2014. It wasn’t long ago that Rational Group’s internationally renowned online poker sites were deemed unworthy of a spot in US regulated markets. That all changed when Amaya Gaming, a software provider that is already licensed and operating in the Garden State, paid $4.9 billion to acquire the Rational Group, along with its notorious iGaming assets.
PokerStars and Full Tilt were both major competitors in the American online poker market before Black Friday, but when that ominous date struck, they were both unceremoniously booted from the US. Just months later, the US Department of Justice decided that online gambling wasn’t specifically prohibited by the UIGEA or Federal Wire Act of 1961, and that individual states should be allowed to author their own regulations for online poker and casino games (just not sportsbooks, as proscribed by the Wire Act).
The moment states began authoring their iGaming regulations, discussions turned towards a ‘bad actors clause’; something Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey each took into consideration when scripting their legislative framework. As such, any online poker operator that continued to accept American players after the UIGEA of 2006 was automatically deemed unfit to receive licensure in the US. PokerStars and Full Tilt were at the very top of that list.
Early last year, PokerStars attempted to apply for a license in New Jersey, where the bad actors clause wasn’t nearly so strict, but the Division of Gaming Enforcement suspended the application and basically said if the company has any connection with Isai Scheinberg (who remains at large in relation to Black Friday indictments), no license will be granted. Thus with Isai’s son Mark as CEO, it was a no-go. When Canadian-based Amaya Gaming acquired Rational Group in a deal that closed on August 1, the DGE got its wish, as was revealed when a statement was released by the director saying they looked forward to the entry of PokerStars into New Jersey’s nascent online poker market.
Two days ago, Newell reported that unnamed sources had divulged a tentative launch date for PokerStars and Full Tilt in the Garden State in early Q4, which translates to the earliest date of October 1, 2014. The report also indicated that the DGE was “not prepared to reopen the PokerStars application”, so instead, Amaya, which is already licensed in New Jersey, could simply adjust its licensure to include PokerStars and Full Tilt. Unfortunately, the DGE has yet to confirm any of this information, and since the sources are unknown, it becomes little more than optimistic speculation.
“All of the questions will likely be answered soon enough,” wrote Newell. “When the deal to launch PokerStars and Full Tilt in New Jersey is officially announced, all of the pieces should fall into place. And players can begin to finally celebrate the return of the largest online poker site in the world to the US market.”