N.J. online poker takes off, PokerStars shot down

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Just one month after New Jersey opened real-money online poker to its residents and visitors, the numbers are coming in and they’re pretty impressive. More than 125K people signed up to create an online account within the state. There were around 50K who signed up the first week and 75K more after that. This is great news for the state, and even greater news for the online operators and casino owners, providing proof to the other U.S. states considering online poker that, to use a line from the movie Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come.”

Partypoker.com, which is teamed with the Borgata Hotel and Spa, just released its mobile app for iOS devices (Apple), which features real and play-money games up to stakes as big as $25-$50, but no tournaments. It has yet to be determined how many users will utilize this app, but as the online poker community grows there, it is sure to be popular among those players on the go.

The Golden Nugget received its authorization to provide online gaming in New Jersey. There was a short delay in getting the OK from the New Jersey Gaming Commission, but now it’s providing games on its sites. This makes the seventh property in the state to go live with online gaming.
Just as the gaming commission was approving the Golden Nugget’s online license, it was denying PokerStars.com its request to be a licensed online provider.

Because of accusations of wrongdoing levied on PokerStars and some of its executive management over the past couple of years, the commission has suspended the application review process for up to two years. PokerStars was quick to respond to the news:

“We are disappointed that the NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement has suspended the review of our application at this time. We note that the DGE will resume the review of our application if our circumstances change. We will remain in open dialogue with the DGE and will update them on changes in our situation as they occur.”

In a January announcement, PokerStars head of corporate communications Eric Hollreiser said PokerStars is committed to enter into the online gaming business not only in New Jersey, but will seek other states where it can be a major player in the market in 2014.

But there likely will be roadblocks. Most of the regulation and laws that have been written have been specific as to who can be licensed as an online operator and the criteria they have to meet.
This criteria has typically included a “Bad Actor” clause, which prohibits companies that have had checkered pasts, or are still involved in litigation, to be allowed or considered for a license for a specific period of time. So, it may be hard for PokerStars to break into the U.S. market for a while.

TRIBAL NATIONS: Since online gaming has become legal in Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey, there are many Indian tribes looking to add online gaming to their revenue streams. According to an article in Stateline, in 28 states, American Indian Tribes have 460 gaming locations, but none have online gaming. In Oklahoma, the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes have joined forces and made an agreement to go after players outside of the United States. They intend to share the profits between their tribes and have come to an agreement on terms with the state to pay certain percentages of the net revenue of house-funded games on a sliding scale and 10 percent of the monthly net revenue of non house-funded card games, including poker, being funded by the players.

Recently, the U.S. government halted the agreement, stating the tribes are getting the bad end of the deal and the state is taking advantage of them. The tribes feel this is a good deal for them and don’t see the state as taking advantage of any kind. So, the tribes have filed a lawsuit against the government.

— Email Joel Gatlin at editor@anteupmagazine.com.