PokerStars is finally talking publicly about its long-awaited return to the US market, with Amaya Gaming CEO David Baazov predicting the world’s largest network will be fully functional in New Jersey in the third quarter of 2015.
During the company’s conference call with investors on Tuesday morning, Baazov said, “As it relates to New Jersey I would say that we feel that this is coming,” later confirming Amaya expects the platform to be made available to Jerseyans sometime this fall.
It’s been one long U-turn since PokerStars and Full Tilt were driven out of America following Black Friday in April of 2011.
One tease after another has surfaced since online poker became legalized in Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware, but until this week Amaya itself hadn’t publicly addressed a specific timeframe for a return.
Interstate No Love Song
New Jersey has largely avoided the topic of joining the newly formed interstate compact between Nevada and Delaware, much to the dismay of poker players and government leaders who believe larger pools will only better the industry. Before the joint agreement was finally implemented last week,
The First State was struggling to support even a single cash game table, but that quickly changed after bringing Nevada’s much larger network to Delaware.
The Multi-State Poker Network (MSPN), as it’s being called, is off to a promising start in its first week live. According to PokerScout, Delaware traffic has expectedly soared from a previous seven-day average of just seven players to now hovering around 160.
24-hour peaks are also living up to the hype as both the Nevada and Delaware rooms are surpassing 360 players. The goal of the MSPN has always been to bring in additional states as legislation is passed, with Delaware Governor Jack Markell saying at the time of the agreement, “Today this is an Internet poker agreement between Delaware and Nevada, but we know more games and more states mean more players, which means more revenue for participating states.”
So far, New Jersey has shown little to no interest in joining the compact, and this week we learned why: the state had a trick up its sleeve in the form of a ringer.
For comparison to Nevada and Delaware’s improved numbers, PokerStars hangs around 18,000 players for its weekly average and regularly peaks over 30,000 per 24 hours.
Should the network finally receive its Jersey license to represent Resorts Atlantic City’s online presence, the impact will unquestionably be substantial.
However, the state’s online poker revenue for February dropped a staggering 34.2 percent year-over-year, and two poker sites, Ultimate Gaming and Betfair, previously ceased operations respectively in September and December of 2014. Of course, that should all change once Amaya joins in on the fun.
The MSPN was likely hoping it could flaunt its success, making the compact an attractive initiative for not only New Jersey, but also additional states such as Pennsylvania, New York, and California that are currently mulling legalizing iPoker.
But with PokerStars potentially entering Jersey this fall, new states with legalized online gambling will be scurrying to join forces with the Garden State, not Nevada and Delaware.