Pala Poker Waiting On PokerStars Before Entering US Market

Posted on July 13th, 2015 by Jon Pineda
Pala Poker Pala Interactive Jim Ryan PokerStars New Jersey

Jim Ryan, CEO of Pala Interactive and Pala Poker, says he’s continuing to delay his company’s poker product in New Jersey until PokerStars makes its debut. (Image:

Pala Poker is holding off on paying the ante in New Jersey, and while the company launched its casino product in November of last year, it believes following PokerStars’ anticipated entry in the third-quarter of 2015 is a more opportune time to debut.

“We will offer Pala Poker in the New Jersey market, but we’ll do it after PokerStars launches,” Jim Ryan, Pala Interactive CEO told recently. “PokerStars has taken the position that when they come into the market they’ll increase consumer awareness and the market will grow; we can only hope that that’s accurate.”

Long-delayed by the state’s Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE), PokerStars’ parent company Amaya told investors recently that it expects the brand to be fully licensed in New Jersey in the coming months.

Should that happen, the two struggling rooms, WSOP/888 and Party Borgata, averaging 170 and 100 cash game players for their seven-day averages, could see an influx of new players as online poker will surely snag plenty of headlines.

California MIA

With the legalizing of online poker in California all but dead for 2015, gaming executives are taking their efforts back east.

Pala Interactive, founded and owned by the Pala Band of Mission Indians, a 12,273-acre reservation in northern San Diego County, heavily relies on its Casino Resort & Spa to support its economy, and the group expects online gaming to increase that effort.

The company had hoped its home state would permit native tribes who largely have a monopoly on the gambling industry to expand to online play, but pushback from the horse racing industry and the ongoing debate in Sacramento led to a stalemate in the capitol.

Last week, Assemblymen Mike Gatto (D-District 43) and Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-District 59) both scratched their online poker bills from a hearing after neither gained enough momentum among their constituents.

That hasn’t stopped PokerStars from campaigning to create awareness and support for iPoker legislation in California.

The world’s largest card room is currently sending its roster of pros including Daniel Negreanu, Chris Moneymaker, Vanessa Selbst, Jason Somerville, and Liv Boeree to casinos and poker rooms around the state.

New Mission: New Jersey

With the Golden State out of the mix for the foreseeable future, Ryan and his team are focusing on its New Jersey online products through its partnership with the Borgata.

Its 27-game Pala Casino has been operating now for months, and though the industry got off to a slow start in the Garden State, Ryan remains optimistic.

Over the last several months, online gambling has continued to perform well year-over-year, but that’s almost entirely credited towards the iCasinos, not iPoker.

However, Ryan believes poker will expand exponentially upon PokerStars being finally permitted to operate.

When his company first announced Pala Poker wouldn’t rollout with the casino platform, Ryan pointed to the challenges of player liquidity, a hurdle that makes poker a bigger challenge.

Citing the exiting of Ultimate Poker from New Jersey, Ryan thinks bringing the Pala Poker room to residents following the boom of a PokerStars launch will better serve his brand.

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