PokerStars Could Be in New Jersey in Weeks, Says Lesniak

Posted on September 17th, 2014 by Daniel Ryder
NJ State Senator Ray Lesniak

State Senator Ray Lesniak has suggested that an announcement regarding PokerStars in New Jersey could come within weeks. (Image: Noah K. Murray/The Star Ledger)

PokerStars seems virtually assured of a return to New Jersey, at least based on the speculation of industry insiders and the company’s actions in recent weeks. But there’s still the question of a timetable for such a return. Now, one prominent New Jersey politician is saying that PokerStars will likely be back in the Garden State much sooner than you might have expected.

According to New Jersey State Senator Ray Lesniak (D-20th District), a major announcement about PokerStars’ return to New Jersey will be coming soon. Lesniak initially relayed this information via Twitter, where he teased some exciting developments and answered questions from some of his followers.

Lesniak Tweets Excitedly About PokerStars

“PokerStars launch will spark an AC revival. Stay tuned for a major announcement,” Lesniak tweeted late last week. When pressed on when such an announcement could be coming, Lesniak replied “not long, weeks not months.”

Lesniak offered other tidbits that drove speculation as well. He suggested that “international poker tournaments like the Rider [sic] Cup in golf will be coming to AC,” which some have interpreted to mean that the World Cup of Poker could someday be hosted in Atlantic City. PokerStars did recently register a trademark for that event in the United States, and the tournament was pulled from the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, with organizers hinting that a new location had been found.

On Twitter, some speculated that Lesniak might also be hinting at the possibility of letting other states opt in to New Jersey’s online poker networks. Lesniak took the ball and ran, tweeting “soon to be countries!” in response to one tweet on the subject.

Investment to Go Beyond Internet Poker

Lesniak was then able to clarify some of his comments through a phone interview with PokerNews.

“It’s going to be soon and it’s going to be huge,” Lesniak said in regards to an announcement. “PokerStars is going to make a huge investment in Atlantic City, not just in Internet gaming but in their brand and in bringing attractions to Atlantic City.”

Lesniak reiterated his belief that PokerStars could receive regulatory approval in a matter of weeks, and said that the company would be a big part of the potential comeback for the beleaguered resort city.

“The next step is to go international with Internet gaming,” said Lesniak, who has proposed legislation in New Jersey that would allow players in other jurisdictions where online gambling is legal to take part in the state’s offerings. “That’s the third shoe that’s going to drop. We’re going to bring international poker tournaments to Atlantic City. This is a real game-changer for Atlantic City, both with sports betting and PokerStars, and boy is this needed.”

PokerStars made efforts to apply for a New Jersey online gambling license last year, but the company was rebuffed by regulators who were uncomfortable with the ongoing legal problems faced by some of the company’s management team. When PokerStars was purchased by Amaya Gaming this summer, one of the major goals was to get the world’s largest online poker site back into US jurisdictions such as New Jersey.

PokerStars’ return would come at a time when Atlantic City is looking for any good news it can get. Four casinos have already closed in the city during 2014, with a fifth (the Trump Taj Mahal) likely to close its doors later this year.

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