PokerStars Targeted Return is More than Mere Optimism

PS LogoThe return of PokerStars to the United States has been held above New Jersey like a juicy steak in front of a hungry dog. Timelines have been set several times and each time they have been missed. However, the latest timeline established for the return of PokerStars to the United States has many believing that it may actually happen.

PokerStars held a conference call this past week and Amaya Inc CEO David Baazov addressed the company’s return to the U.S. He stated, “As it relates to New Jersey, I would say that we feel that this is coming. We would expect to receive and launch in the [third] quarter of 2015.”

The third quarter of the 2015 tax season starts on July 1 and continues through September 30. If this timeline holds true, we could see some dramatic growth in the New Jersey online poker market this fall.

Why the Optimism When So Many Targets Have Been Missed?

Based on recent history, some might wonder why this announcement is any different from the missed targets of the past year. Firstly, this announcement actually came from an official with the company and not from a political figure.

If you look back to many of the “missed targets” from the past year, many have been those announced by Senator Ray Lesniak of NJ. This time around, we have the CEO of Amaya telling us that the site is coming, making it a much more credible announcement.

Also, he didn’t give a specific date but rather a three-month range that the company can shoot for. This target is still three months away from starting, giving the company a full six months to gain approval from the NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement, finish their NJ client, setup servers and begin soft launch procedures.

PalaOther Signs Pointing to Probability of Launch?

The Baazov reveal is not the only potential sign that a PokerStars launch in NJ is imminent. A few weeks back, Pala Interactive announced that they were shelving the launch of Pala Poker in New Jersey due to their belief that PokerStars would be launching in New Jersey.

When Pala Poker was first announced, some found it hard to believe that the company could cut a niche for itself in a market about to be invaded by PokerStars. However, as delays for the company continued, the talk began to circle around if the company would return rather than when. Pala choosing to abandon their site now appears prophetic with Amaya’s recent announcement.

Another piece of interesting news broke over the weekend. According to Online Poker Report, the Pechanga coalition in California is now considering an alliance with PokerStars on order to facilitate iPoker legislation in California. This is a monumental shift for the coalition as the bad actor clause has been a key roadblock in the state.
Could the imminent return of PokerStars in New Jersey be the reason that Pechanga are making this change? Possibly. PokerStars’ battle for a U.S. iPoker license has been a long one and a battle they weren’t certain to win.

As New Jersey continued to hold the company back, Pechanga could hold their ground with the knowledge that PokerStars had yet to get a footing in the country. Now with the writing on the proverbial wall in New Jersey, Pechanga may have taken the stance of “if you can’t beat them, join them” and softened their stance.

Now all we can do is sit back and wait to see the progress what PokerStars actually makes towards a Q3 launch. They have six months to do so, which logically should be enough time to finalize everything. The fall of 2015 could be shaping up to be an exciting time for NJ iGaming and the aftershocks could impact the entire U.S. iGaming industry.