The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement give their approval for PokerStars to be able to begin operations in the States Regulated online Poker Market. This decision took a long time coming, however it looks like it is too little, too late.
PokerStars story goes back to 2011 when the FBI seized PokerStars, Cereus and Full Tilt’s (they were the largest USA Online poker companies) domains effectively cutting them off for USA Customers.
PokerStars were able to repay all of its global players immediately as well as their USA clients because they kept their post up funds in a separate account from their operating accounts, but, Full Tilt and Cereus were unable to pay as they had not separated their funds. Cereus with a fraction of players compared to the other two eventually shut down their Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet, and Full Tilt continued to cater for other non U.S. customers. After some investigation by the Dept of Justice, it was found that Full Tilt was operating in the Red, and they were accused of operating a Ponzi scheme, the company denied this.
Alderney then withdrew Full Tilt's license, leaving Full Tilt’s customers in a pickle. It seems that the DoJ believed that if they exposed Full Tilt for the fraud they would receive accolades from players and the casino industry, but this backfired as the players were furious and they were ready to show their unhappiness at the voting booth during 2012. It was further exacerbated when Poker Player's Alliance suggested to the players that they vote against the candidates who were responsible for Black Friday.
Alderney and the DoJ started looking for a buyer to take over Full Tilt, both for different reasons, soon Alderney believed he had a suitable buyer, with a French businessman. It soon became clear, however, that this French company - Group Bernard Tapie - did not intent paying back the U.S. players, and they were not prepared to give the DoJ anything toward expenses incurred in the Black Friday affair. The DOJ stopped stopped this sale and gave PokerStars an offer they could not refuse. PokerStars had to pay $714 million the DoJ this would give PokerStars a pardon, and would them to operate in the USA in the future. This $714 million meant they had to repay Full Tilt’s customers worldwide and pay a fine to the DoJ for ‘wrongdoings’, although PokerStars did not have to admit any improprieties. PokerStars agreed, they paid the money and immediately began to look to the USA market when the law was passed for New Jersey to allow online gambling in the state.
Online poker in NJ/PokerStars then made an offer to purchase Atlantic Club Casino, which was set to close, so the takeover by PokerStars saved thousands of jobs and provided funding to casino owners. The deal was never consummated for diverse reasons that included the other casinos and representatives of the American Gaming Association, who had told the state that PokerStars should be excluded for a period of at least 2 years because of past wrongs.
It appears the DoJ had at this point informed PokerStars that the feud was now with New Jersey, and that there was nothing they could do despite having given a bill of good health for the $714 million. It also showed that Governor Chris Christie had also blocked the sale in order to appease Sheldon Adelson, who does not want PokerStars operating in the USA.
The following year, 2013, PokerStars agreed on a partnership with Resorts Casino which would contain a $10 million poker room at Atlantic City Casino and would potentially create 1,000 jobs. A7628 words divided by 400 = 19.07 x $3.95 = $75.32hough this was welcome news for the struggling Resort's casino, the move was stopped by the DGE who claimed that there were still outstanding charges against PokerStars Owner Isai Scheinberg. Finally, the Rational Group, who now owned PokerStars and Full Tilt, agreed that they would sell the company to Amaya Gaming in 2014 for $4.9 billion and that all the previous owners would therefore walk away from the business.
With new owners now in place the DGE's stated concerns about Isai Scheinberg was void and Amaya's new owner, David Baazov, said that he expected PokerStars to start operating in New Jersey at the 3rd quarter of 2015, however they did hope to begin earlier in the year.
A source said that the 3rd quarter of 2015 was a critical time, since it fit in with the 2 year waiting period that was demanded by the AGA in 2013 and provided the company sufficient time to figure out how they could make the biggest impact when they opened. This date close to the 2016 elections which means there is hope that the news would not have a negative affect on Mr. Chris Christie's presidential aspirations.
Reaction from key players such as Ray Lesniak and other politicians, who have been in the forefront to allowing PokerStars to operate has been non-existent and the Eilers Research who had earlier predicted that there would be a massive growth in poker seem to have done an about turn and changed their projections. Also the people in New Jersey do not appear to be that excited. There is a feeling that PokerStars is not the same PokerStars that was banned, and that this Canadian company can’t compete with the current existing poker casinos.
There is still hope that they will have been proven wrongs, however, given the limited number of players at WSOP, maxing out at around 400, and Borgata maxing about 300 players, plus UltimatePoker closing there is not much expectation of things being different, only one state there is not sufficient market to create volume.