Following a five-day soft launch (trial) period that saw PokerStars steadily increase its hours of operation under the watchful eye of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, the company is now officially open for business 24 hours a day, seven days a week in New Jersey, and all soft launch restrictions have been lifted.
“We could not be more proud to bring PokerStars to New Jersey,” David Baazov, chairman and CEO of Amaya, said in a press release marking the company’s return to the U.S. online poker market after a five year absence. “Working with our partner, Resorts Casino Hotel, we look forward to providing the most exciting, innovative and secure gaming experience to New Jersey.”
“This is a great day for online gaming, for state players and residents and for Atlantic City,” Morris Bailey, owner of Resorts Casino Hotel said in the same press release. “Resorts has worked diligently to build a home for globally renowned brands in New Jersey and, with the addition of PokerStars, is proud to introduce yet another respected partner.”
Here’s what we know so far about PokerStars’ official launch in New Jersey.
Poker and casino available
One of the biggest surprises of the soft launch was the appearance of both poker and casino games. It was widely believed that PokerStars would launch an online poker platform first, followed by a casino platform, but the two launched concurrently.
Player cap removed, early traffic numbers promising
The biggest change that will occur now that PokerStars has officially launched in New Jersey is the end of the 500 player cap that was in effect throughout the five-day soft launch period. While it didn’t appear PokerStars came particularly close to reaching the cap during the soft launch phase, the site likely will during its major tournaments, so this is a really important development that removes any potential barriers on traffic.
Even limited by the soft launch player cap, PokerStars has already caught the Borgata and partypoker network in terms of cash game traffic (110 to 110 according to PokerScout.com), and should easily jump past 888 and WSOP.com in the coming weeks, as the 888 and WSOP.com network has average cash-game traffic of 180 players.
IMPORTANT: Quick account creation limited to tri-state area
Even though PokerStars’ press release makes it seem like quick account creation (which comes with special VIP and welcome bonus perks) is available to anyone with an old PokerStars account, this is not the case.
Even though the press release states, “Customers who previously held a PokerStars real-money or play-money account are eligible for a welcome offer based on their play history,” and would “receive their last held VIP status, Play Money Chips, and StarsCoin,” if you are outside of Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York, and New Jersey, you will not be able to migrate your existing PokerStars account to New Jersey.
Several people outside of this region were able to use the quick account creation option during the soft launch period, but this is appears to no longer be the case.
Now when you try to migrate your account with the quick account creation, a pop-up appears and you’re prompted to choose one of two options based on your location:
- If you live in Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware or New Jersey you can jump to the quick account creation process.
- If you’re located anywhere else you have to create a new PokerStars New Jersey account, and any attempt to migrate your account will result in being bounced back and forth between the PokerStars New Jersey and PokerStars Global clients.
A PokerStars representative I spoke with said limiting quick account creation to the tri-state area was by design.
Unfortunately, this hasn’t been communicated very well, and as I noted above, today’s press release even contains the previous language that makes it seem all players have the option to migrate their old accounts.
In the end this is likely going to result in a lot of frustration, as I learned firsthand. Having been led to believe quick account creation was available to anyone, I personally attempted to migrate my PokerStars global account to PokerStars New Jersey from my home in Massachusetts, and kept being maddeningly redirected from the PokerStars NJ to the PokerStars Global client.
Making matters worse, after exhausting every possibility, I finally gave up and tried to find contact information for PokerStars New Jersey and was met with an FAQ page, with the support email address buried on a subpage and only visible in certain expanded views. Hopefully the difficulty in finding customer support information is not by design, as I feel easy to locate customer support contact information is critical. Not to mention communicating precisely who can migrate their account is something PokerStars should fix straightaway.