Yesterday was one of the best days in the history of legal regulated online poker in the US, at least for those living in New Jersey to begin with, as the Rational Group announced that their two poker sites has been approved to operate in New Jersey.
This means that Pokerstars and Full Tilt will once again return to the US, for the first time since Black Friday in 2011 where the Department of Justice (DOJ) shut down the sites and launched investigations and froze up money from players.
The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) have spend the past couple of years examining the Rational Group and its subsidiaries before approving them to operate in the state. There’s no doubt that this has only been made possible with Amaya acquiring the brands and wouldn’t have happened if the pre-black friday management had still been in place.
A total of 70 individuals has been interviewed in the process and several jurisdictions has been visited before the DGE could approve the Rational Group. The review found that Pokerstars is under a strong, strict, trusted and ethical ownership and were thus approved.
"We are very pleased to add New Jersey to the long list of regulated markets that have found PokerStars and Full Tilt suitable to offer real-money online gaming," said David Baazov, Chairman and CEO of Amaya. "I want to thank the DGE for their thorough and fair review of our business. We look forward to bringing our popular brands, innovative technology, marketing prowess and world-class security and game integrity to the growing New Jersey online gaming market. We anticipate providing additional details of our launch plans in the near future.”
Amaya Gaming announced at the same time that they have partnered up with Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City to provide online poker and casino in the state. Amaya also have permission to provide b2b online and land-based solutions in the state.
"Since the acquisition, we have consistently delivered on our stated strategy," said Baazov. "Today's announcement follows the divesture of our B2B businesses for total gross proceeds of approximately US$524.8 million; the launch of casino games on PokerStars, which we estimate has one of the largest active user bases of any online casino; the refinancing of our long term debt and the reduction of our annual interest expense by approximately US$62 million. We are excited about our new product pipeline and enthusiastic that we will experience growth in existing and emerging markets in the future."
Along with the approval comes a lot of celebrations amongst players who has missed the two sites for more than four years. At the same time many US players hopes that this will bring back some of the land-based tournament series that Pokerstars hosted and overall they hope for a place to play with many players, great software and big tournaments.
There has not been released any date on when Pokerstars or Full Tilt will go live in New Jersey.