PokerStars Back in US, Returns to New Jersey on March 21
Almost five years after being forced to pull out of the U.S. market thanks to Black Friday, PokerStars announced it will begin regulated operations in New Jersey starting March 21, 2016.
What to Expect from PokerStars NJ
PokerStars didn’t waste time telling players some of what they can expect from PokerStars NJ.
First, the massively popular Spin & Go tournament format will be part of the poker offering in New Jersey. For those that have never played these Spin & Gos are three-handed hyper-turbo tournaments that have multiplied prize pools.
The prize pools are “Winner Take All” in most cases but some offer top three prize pools which pay 80% to first and 10% to second and third. Players can win anywhere from double their buy-in up to 10,000 times their buy-in.
It's unclear how much players will be able to win in Spin & Gos on PokerStars NJ but we expect it will be a popular promotion.
A "Sunday Special" was also mentioned in the PokerStars press release. We expect this will be New Jersey’s version of the Sunday Million with prize pools anywhere from $150,000 to $250,000 in the early weeks after launch.
PokerStars NJ is also hosting a special freeroll for new players on March 27. Signup for your account in the week following the March 21 launch and you will get an entry in to a $25,000 freeroll that’s paying $5,000 to first place.
PokerStars NJ to Include Casino Games
PokerStars NJ is making a wise play and also including casino games as part of its online gambling offering. Players on the site will be able to play real-money online Blackjack, Baccarat, Roulette, Video Poker and a wide array of Slots.
NJ online casinos experienced tremendous growth in 2015 due to casino games and PokerStars is looking to capitalize on that fact.
The Road to Regulation
As many of you know New Jersey launched regulated online poker back in November 2013. PokerStars was not included in that launch despite having applied for a license.
Shortly afterwards PokerStars’ application for a license was put on hold due to Isai Scheinberg’s continued association with the company. Scheinberg is still “at-large” following his indictment related to Black Friday.
In August 2014 PokerStars’ parent company was sold to the Amaya Gaming Group for $4.9 billion. Following the sale the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) reopened its investigation on PokerStars.
After over a year of investigation the DGE finally awarded the Amaya-run PokerStars a transactional waiver in September 2015.
This waiver came with conditions. Four unsuitable executives had to be removed from the company and funds previously unreturned to NJ players either had to be returned or forfeited to the state by the end of 2015.
PokerStars complied with the conditions and announced its return to the U.S. market late last week.
Expect PokerStars to Start Strong
New Jersey poker players have been awaiting the return of PokerStars to the United States since 2013. Now that it's finally returning, expect a solid influx of online poker traffic to the site during the first couple of months.
There is a good chance that the site could take the #1 spot for online poker in New Jersey in the early weeks following the launch. Afterwards, we could see numbers drop a bit as the novelty of PokerStars begins to wear off.
Ultimately, we expect PokerStars to stay no worse than second in the industry for online poker. PokerStars will also be a major force overall and we expect general iGaming revenues to steadily climb as it rebuilds its player base.
Within six months, PokerStars could be #2 in New Jersey for general iGaming behind Borgata. Please keep in mind that you have to be physically located in New Jersey to play on PokerStars NJ.
That doesn’t mean you have to live there. Visitors to the state can also play on PokerStars provided they have Wi-Fi and are 21 or older.
Will PokerStars be successful in New Jersey? We believe they will but time will tell whether the world’s largest online poker room will be able to establish a foothold in the U.S. market.