PokerStars returning to New Jersey is perhaps the most anticipated launch in the history of online gambling.
Players in the Garden State are eagerly awaiting the network’s return along with its now sister platform Full Tilt, but that arrival won’t take place until after the New Year.
New Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) approved a Transactional Waiver Order for Amaya, the parent company to both PokerStars and Full Tilt, on the last day of September to offer Internet gaming in the state.
The reason the two platforms will not launch until 2016 is due to PokerStars trying to settle outstanding funds stemming from 2011, a condition that must be met per the DGE’s authorization terms.
“Under New Jersey’s Uniform Unclaimed Property Act, we are required to make a diligent attempt to renew contact,” PokerStars wrote in a letter to outstanding balance holders. “If contact is not renewed we are required to transfer your account to the custody of the State of New Jersey.”
DGE Escheats Players
Following poker’s Black Friday on April 15, 2011, players’ bankrolls were seized and the networks were taken offline by government authorities.
Since that time, Full Tilt and PokerStars implemented restitution procedures to customers, but many balances have gone unclaimed due to their minimal value or for other unknown reasons.
In the DGE’s investigation into PokerStars and its subsequent approval, one stipulation was that “Amaya shall escheat to the State of New Jersey all funds remaining in any PokerStars’ accounts for New Jersey players … before commencing Internet gaming operations in New Jersey.”
Instead of simply turning over the money to the DGE, PokerStars is trying to give players one last chance at recouping their funds. In the case of marginal values where the cost of return is greater than its value, PokerStars is providing the option to donate the monies to the Council on Compulsive Gambling.
“If contact is not renewed by December 28, 2015, we are required by law to transfer these funds to the custody of the State of New Jersey,” the letter concludes. The total outstanding balance is $428,000.
Very Kind, PokerStars
The gesture to give players another chance to decide what happens to their funds from 2011 instead of simply handing them over to the government which will probably be well received even though it will delay the networks from returning to the US until 2016.
So when will the second coming of PokerStars occur? By all projections, it seems in the days after the clock strikes midnight on December 31 that PokerStars and Full Tilt will undergo their five-day soft launch, another stipulation in the DGE contract.
Should the test period go without interruption or technological issues, the poker businesses could open to the public on day six.
State Senator Ray Lesniak (D-District 20), the state’s leading online gambling advocate, said last month with a laugh, “I was only a year ahead with projections,” but added the licensing “sends a strong message to Washington, DC, to keep your hands off New Jersey and other states’ efforts to have Internet gaming for their residents.”