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Online poker players in the U.S. who miss the good ol’ days when they could log on and play at PokerStars for real money are excited that a launch date of March 21 in New Jersey has been announced.

Granted, it’s only one state, but one is certainly better than none.

As Bill Murray learned in the hilarious 1991 comedy “What About Bob,” progress is often made in the form of baby steps. And PokerStars’ upcoming launch is yet another baby step in what many hope will eventually be regulated online poker throughout the U.S.

The initial baby steps were taken when Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey enacted online poker and gambling legislation and launched in 2013. The interstate partnership between Nevada and Delaware that went into effect last year was the next baby step. And now we have the triumphant return of PokerStars next month. Baby steps.

Far Reaching Effect

How important is the impact that PokerStars’ launch in New Jersey might have on online poker in the U.S.? It depends on who you listen to. Some say very little impact, others think the effect will be substantial. I tend to believe the needle will move more toward the latter.

The ramifications have already reached from one coast to another before PokerStars dealt a virtual hand of poker in New Jersey. It is widely believed that the bad actor issue that that has been plaguing progress in California’s efforts to advance online poker legislation has become much less of an issue since New Jersey gaming regulators gave PokerStars the green light to operate in the Garden State. If they passed the muster following an exhaustive investigation in New Jersey, it’s hard to keep PokerStars out elsewhere, the thinking goes.

When PokerStars launches in New Jersey next month, there is reason to believe that other states will take notice. We can expect a considerable amount of publicity, even in the mainstream press. What we want that publicity to do is to prompt other states into action by enacting legislation of their own.

In addition to California, Pennsylvania and New York have made moves in that direction. The bad actor issue is practically a non-issue in those states, and it is likely to stay that way considering the approval and impending launch of PokerStars in New Jersey.

Nevada’s online poker legislation contains language that will keep PokerStars out until early 2018. But Nevada regulators may consider amending the statute in due course. And who might we thank for that possible turn of events that could find the red spade in Nevada before too long? Once again, New Jersey.

PokerStars NJ

U.S. players nationwide can create an account at PokerStars NJ. Play money tables will be available for those outside of New Jersey. Visitors to the state will be able to play for real money.

That real money play will include the popular Spin & Go games currently offered on the main site that have made over a dozen millionaires so far. Who will be the first New Jersey Spin & Go millionaire? We will likely know sometime after March 21.

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Charles Rettmuller

Charles has been an avid poker player for a number of years, both live and online. He holds a degree in journalism and previously worked as a reporter for a Chicago-based newspaper. Charles joined the PokerUpdate team in early 2012 and writes daily news articles for the site.