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At long last, PokerStars has been approved by state gaming regulators to enter the online poker and gambling market in New Jersey.

After an exhaustive review, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement has authorized Amaya, the parent company of PokerStars and Full Tilt, to operate gaming sites in the Garden State. Amaya is partnered with Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City and will offer regulated igaming to New Jersey residents and visitors through that collaboration.

Approval had been expected for some time, with Amaya CEO David Baazov indicating several months ago that a greenlight from the DGE with regard to PokerStars’ online gaming license application was coming. That day finally arrived.

Baazov Thanks DGE

“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,” Baazov stated in a press release. “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.”

Baazov added that details about a specific launch date will be announced shortly. With Amaya anticipating the approval since earlier this year, it is believed that the launch will not be a prolonged affair.

A Long Road

PokerStars applied for a license to operate in New Jersey in 2013, but that application was suspended due to legal issues faced by company executives with regard to the Black Friday indictments in 2011. In a nutshell, PokerStars’ founder Isai Scheinberg was one of those indicted and failed to answer the charges.

However, the assets of PokerStars and Full Tilt (under the Rational Group umbrella) were sold to Amaya Gaming last year, which has since re-branded to Amaya, Inc. With Scheinberg out of the picture, the DGE had the task of turning its attention toward investigating Amaya for license suitability.

That investigation and review was intensive, brought about by allegations of possible insider trading due to the rise of Amaya stock just prior to the purchase of ‘Stars and Full Tilt. But no wrongdoing was ever proven and DGE regulators obviously found Amaya to be a most suitable licensee.

Future Prospects

Today’s announcement may have an effect on the U.S. online poker industry for years to come. PokerStars has been saddled with a bad actor label for continuing in the U.S. market after the UIGEA was enacted in 2006. Other poker sites, such as Partypoker, left the U.S. at that time.

Whether or not PokerStars should be penalized or was at fault for those actions nine years ago has never been broached or resolved in a court of law. But the bad actor label, whether justified or not, is certainly no longer in play under the new ownership of Amaya.

In any event, other states contemplating ipoker regulation who leaned toward PokerStars perhaps being in the wrong seemingly no longer have that argument in their favor after the lengthy review and approval issued by the NJDGE.

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.

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