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PokerStars Notably Absent From New Jersey Soft Launch

New Jersey’s soft launch for invited players kicked off yesterday amid reports from a number of invitees that several glitches kept some from enjoying a successful first day of gambling online.

The same troubles that Nevada players at Ultimate Poker and encountered are being reported by New Jersey players such as problems depositing with credit cards, identity and location verification, and even simply gaining access to sites, the Press of Atlantic City reported. However, those issues are par for the course and are the reason why a five-day test period precludes the real-money hard launch that will open to the general public within New Jersey next week.

Seven Atlantic City casinos have been green-lighted by New Jersey gaming officials to provide online gambling and each are allowed as many as five websites. But the latest list released by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) shows 15 domains receiving approval to launch.

Those 15 websites are being offered by the platforms of Bwin, 888, Amaya, Bally, Gamesys, Betfair and Ultimate Gaming. Notably missing from yesterday’s soft launch rollout is PokerStars, who conceded earlier in the week that they will not be among the participants in New Jersey as discussions with the DGE regarding licensing approval continue.

PokerStars has been running into difficulty in its attempts to gain a foothold in the New Jersey market. A failed purchase of the Atlantic Club casino earlier this year led to a ‘plan B’ that saw the world’s leading online poker room forge an agreement with the Resorts Casino Hotel in an effort to tap into the U.S. market.

But ‘plan B’ has come under intense scrutiny from DGE regulators who reportedly are unhappy that PokerStars’ founder Isai Scheinberg remains a fugitive from justice. The Black Friday charges that Scheinberg has yet to answer to include allegations of money laundering, operating an illegal gambling business, and violating the UIGEA.

PokerStars has previously indicated its intent to headquarter its U.S. operations in the Garden State if its license application finds favor with DGE officials. That could be a big boon to the New Jersey economy and is certainly taken under consideration by state regulators as they continue sorting out licensing and domain approvals on a rolling basis.

In the meantime, the New Jersey soft launch will continue with eight more hours of online gambling for invited players today. That will be expanded to 16 hours tomorrow and 24/7 wagering on both Sunday and Monday before the hard launch goes forward on Tuesday, Nov. 26. Provided, of course, that the issues plaguing the online poker and gambling sites can be ironed out.



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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.