To Launch March 2016

PokerStars New Jersey Online Poker Room Launch Date Set: March 21 At

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The long-awaited launch of PokerStars NJ is finally tied to a specific date, with parent company Amaya announcing Thursday that is scheduled to launch March 21.

Get answers to commonly asked questions about PokerStars NJ here.

“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. We are honored and excited to now bring these experiences to New Jersey,” said David Baazov, Chairman and CEO of Amaya.

Will PokerStars players in New Jersey be competing with players on

No. PokerStars NJ will be separate from the international player pool.

Just like competing sites WSOP and Party / Borgata, players on PokerStars NJ will be playing exclusively against other players located in New Jersey

Soft launch period will precede

While the official launch date is set as March 21, PokerStars NJ will likely open about a week or so before that for a so-called “soft launch.”

In New Jersey’s regulated online gambling market, new sites go through two phases: a “soft launch” where the site is operational for a set number of hours a day so that the operator and regulators can observe the performance of the site, and then a full launch that (barring any issues) generally followed a week or so after the soft launch.

Different operators have handled soft launch registration in different ways, so we don’t know exactly how (or if) PokerStars will restrict the ability of players to sign up and participate during the soft launch.

What took so long?

PokerStars won approval from New Jersey regulators in September 2015. Following that approval, many expected that launch would follow in relatively short order.

Several factors likely contributed to the gap between approval and launch, including:

  • Amaya’s focus on rolling out sports and casino products in the international market.
  • The financial advantages of launching (and absorbing the costs of launching) in 2016 vs 2015.
  • The technical approval process for the software.
  • The lead time required for assembling an operational structure and team for NJ.

How will PokerStars fit into NJ’s online poker landscape?

The prevailing opinion is that PokerStars will more or less immediately rocket to or near the top of the NJ online poker market.

Currently, that market is split roughly 60 / 40 between the WSOP / 888 network and the Party / Borgata network.

While PokerStars may generate some expansion of the market, especially in the short term, the site can do little to counter the reality that New Jersey is a small-population market that can realistically only support a single viable network.

As a result, much of PokerStars’ share will come at the expense of existing operators. Players have had their share of complaints with both (see our NJ online poker reviews for more), so it’s not immediately obvious which is more vulnerable.

The lower liquidity levels at Party / Borgata imply a room that is less able to suffer a player drain, but that’s far from a guarantee that PokerStars will take more share from that network than from WSOP.

Ultimately, much of the outcome will come down to the defenses mounted by NJ’s current online poker sites – a dynamic that could spark an uptick in promotional offerings for players, perhaps creating an environment where the market can claw back some of the broader activity shed over the course of the last two years.

The story til now

Here’s a quick breakdown of the winding path PokerStars took to return to the New Jersey market:

- Chris is the publisher of Grove also serves as a consultant to various stakeholders in the regulated market for online gambling in the United States.
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