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Pala to Become First Indian Tribe to Offer iGaming in New Jersey

A new online gambling site will open in New Jersey in the next couple of weeks, but it will not be PokerStars. On Wednesday, it was announced that Pala Interactive, LLC was issued a transactional waiver by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement to operate under the license of the Borgata Casino & Spa.

The Pala Band of Mission Indians operates Pala Interactive and will become the first Indian tribe to offer iGaming services in New Jersey. The site is expected to launch within two weeks.

Continuation of 2013 Approval

Wednesday’s announcement was actually a year in the making. Last year, Pala was announced as a company approved for a transactional waiver as long as they came up with a casino partner. A partner was never named and iGaming launched in late November 2013 with the Pala on the outside looking in.

Pala’s site will operate under Borgata’s license but will operate separately from Borgata Poker and PartyPoker NJ. This means that they will not share player pools. Based on news from 2013, we do know that CAMS, LLC will provide age and identity verification for Pala Interactive. Also, geolocation services will be provided by GeoComply USA. It is unclear at this time whether they will offer solely casino gaming or if they will offer a poker room.

Site Already Receiving Backlash Due to CEO’s Past

As soon as the transactional waiver was announced, CEO Jim Ryan immediately started coming under fire. Ryan is the former CEO of bwin.Party, a fact that the Pala have well-publicized. What they have failed to mention is his time with UltimateBet.

Flushdraw.net reminded the public of his stint with the company through 2007. A large portion of his tenure was during the infamous cheating scandals run by Russ Hamilton. According to that article, Ryan has been rumored to have obtained copies of code from UltimateBet, some of which showed up in other sites including ClubWPT.

Considering the amount of vetting required to receive a license in New Jersey, one has to assume that regulators feel comfortable with Ryan’s past and that it will have no impact on Pala Interactive’s ability to legally run a NJ iGaming site.

Can Pala Interactive Survive in a Saturated Marketplace?

It is no secret that New Jersey iGaming is becoming a bit saturated with the number of sites in operation. Pala’s site will become the fourth site under Borgata’s umbrella. The question is how successful the site will be when so many options already exist and the fact that PokerStars is coming.

The fact that they are partnered with the Borgata will naturally help in brand recognition, but will their games and promotions be different enough to make them competitive? For a time, some players will try them out for the novelty of saying they are playing on a tribal run site. However, novelty runs out quickly.

Something that could work in their favor is the recent shutdown of Ultimate Gaming NJ. Golden Nugget appeared to be the biggest beneficiary in September from their shutdown but there may still be players out there looking for a new gaming home. Some will likely find their way to Pala Interactive’s site, but will it be enough to make them competitive?

Betfair and Golden Nugget are currently the cellar dwellers in NJ iGaming. In September, Golden Nugget eclipsed $1 million in monthly earnings, while Betfair brought in over $767,000. It’s hard to see Pala starting out much over $500,000 in earnings in their first month due to the sheer number of sites.

 

 

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James Guill

James Guill began his poker career in 2006, spending two years traveling the US tournament circuit. Since 2008, he has covered the game extensively for some of the biggest names in the industry. When not writing about the latest poker news, he can be found hunting for antique treasures in Central Virginia.

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