When PokerStars and Full Tilt were purchased by Amaya, it was clear that one of the major goals for their new owners was to bring those popular brands back to the United States. It seemed like a difficult proposition, and one that would take some time to accomplish. But according to at least one new report, these major players in the world of online poker could be hitting our shores as early as this fall.
According to a story in NJPokerOnline, PokerStars and Full Tilt will be receiving approval in the near future to operate in New Jersey. The article cites “sources in New Jersey” for its information, and says that a tentative launch date of October 1 has been set for both brands. This information has not been confirmed by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE).
A Long Journey for PokerStars
The return of PokerStars (and, to a lesser extent, Full Tilt) has long been expected in New Jersey. While other states have established or proposed “bad actor” clauses that would keep poker sites that operated after the passage of the UIGEA regulations out of their markets, New Jersey left the decision up to their regulators. And while the DGE ultimately kept PokerStars from receiving a license in the state, they did say that they could revisit that decision should the company’s leadership change.
That change came to be when Amaya announced the purchase of the Rational Group earlier this year. At the time of the acquisition, Amaya said that one of their major goals would be to get PokerStars and Full Tilt into regulated US markets, with New Jersey currently being the biggest target.
The regulatory method for getting these two brands into the market could be complicated, however. PokerStars has an existing relationship with the Resorts Casino Hotel, with the two companies having previously agreed to partner should PokerStars be able to gain a New Jersey license. Meanwhile, Amaya already provides services to several other Atlantic City casinos through its Ongame software package, including Caesars, the Golden Nugget, and the Borgata.
According to the latest report, the DGE isn’t ready to reopen the PokerStars application that was shelved when they applied for a license last year. Instead, the path of least resistance may be to modify Amaya’s existing licenses to include both PokerStars and Full Tilt.
Approval Could Shake Up NJ Online Poker Market
If PokerStars really is coming back to the New Jersey market in the near future, it could spell a major shakeup for the online poker landscape there. Given their brand recognition and the fact that there should be extensive publicity for their return, PokerStars will likely come out of the gate as one of the biggest poker rooms. But they will be a year behind their competitors, and “bad actor” clauses in other states could hurt their chances at future intrastate compacts.
Meanwhile, it’s likely that Full Tilt would be utilized as a more universal gambling brand. In recent months, Full Tilt has acquired the rights to a variety of casino game platforms, suggesting that Amaya plans to use PokerStars as their primary poker room, while Full Tilt could offer a variety of online gambling services.