PokerStars is back in the U.S., but only in New Jersey’s iGaming market.
The Amaya-owned platform finally launched in New Jersey on March 21 after a lengthy licensing process in the state. The state approved PokerStars for licensing in September.
It marks the company’s return to the U.S. market after being shut down by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2011 for violating U.S. online gambling laws.
Only PokerStars customers physically located within New Jersey’s borders will be able to use its platform to gamble online when the site launches. PokerStars is partnered with Resorts casino in Atlantic City.
The site will be the state’s 18th internet gambling site. It will undergo testing by state regulators before its debut. It will offer not only poker, but online table games and slot machine games as well.
“PokerStars is the global leader in online poker and trusted by its customers for its robust and innovative technology, world-class security and game integrity,” said David Baazov, Amaya’s chairman and CEO. “We are honored and excited to now bring these experiences to New Jersey.”
After the 2011 shut down, PokerStars had been banned in New Jersey because of legal problems concerning former corporate officials of the Rational Group, owners of the site before Amaya purchased it in 2014.
PokerStars tried twice in 2013 to get licensed in New Jersey, but the state’s Division of Gaming Enforcement suspended the company for up to two years, citing legal problems involving some company executives, including an unresolved indictment against its founder stemming from the DOJ investigation.
Those executives stepped down as part of the sale to Amaya. The PokerStars website also paid a $547 million fine to the Department of Justice, but didn’t admit wrongdoing.
New Jersey requires that internet gambling companies partner with an existing brick-and-mortar casino in Atlantic City to offer online gambling. PokerStars is partnered with Resorts, which launched online gambling last year with Sportech NYX Gaming LLC.
The entrance of PokerStars is expected to give a jolt to New Jersey’s internet gambling market, which took in $149 million last year in its second full year of operation. That represented an increase of more than 21 percent over the previous year, according to the Associated Press. But all of that increase is attributable to the casino products offered by the state’s iGaming sites. The poker side of the business has been in decline for at least the past year.