The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) has authorized Amaya Inc. to operate its PokerStars and Full Tilt brands in New Jersey’s regulated online gaming market.
Following an unprecedented and prolonged investigation by the DGE of the Canadian gaming and online gambling company’s August 2014 acquisition of PokerStars and Full Tilt, which according to Amaya involved visits to several jurisdictions where it conducts business, and interviews with in excess of 70 individuals, DGE’s formal blessing enables the world’s largest poker business U.S. entry. While specific launch dates for the brands weren’t offered by Amaya CEO David Baazov, he did say more information would be forthcoming and that the company would provide additional details “in the near future,” according to information on the Amaya website.
Currently a longstanding agreement exists between PokerStars and Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City predating Amaya’s 2014 acquisition of PokerStars and Full Tilt, to provide online casino and poker offerings in New Jersey. A separate deal exists with SNG Interactive to supply Resorts with a casino product, but according reports Amaya will be providing casino and poker products. DGE has also previously given Amaya approval to provide New Jersey with B2B online and land-based gaming solutions.
DGE’s approval on the last day of the third quarter fulfills Baazov’s March prediction that Stars would get the get the green light before Q3’s end. On Wednesday shares of Amaya were trading well below its July peak of $37, at just under $23. However, the stock was up nearly 6% at closing trading at $24.33.
Expectations regarding PokerStars and Full Tilt’s impact on the New Jersey market are mixed. The latter is among the world’s top online gaming sites while the former is the largest online poker site; together they have more than 95 million registered customers. It is anticipated that existing players from New Jersey’s other regulated sites will comprise the majority of PokerStars early traffic. Whether or not the power of the brand, minus its global liquidity, will be sufficient to attract new gamers remains to be seen, but the company’s U.S. ambitions remain dependent on the all but dormant state of legislative progress.