In a surprise press release issued on Thursday afternoon, Amaya announced it expects to launch PokerStars NJ on March 21, 2016.
The company’s New Jersey website also went live (www.PokerStarsNJ.com) on Thursday, although it is currently only informational in nature, as it contains information about the launch and what players can expect, as well as the site’s plans to host a $25,000 “We’re In New Jersey” freeroll on March 27, 2016.
Launch is coming sooner than expected
The March 21 launch date is well ahead of the expected timetable. Even though Amaya CEO David Baazov said the launch would occur sometime in the first half of 2016. But given the history of PokerStars in New Jersey, and the logistics of launching an online gaming site in a highly regulated market, the general consensus was that the launch would be at the tail end of that timeframe, if not even later.
What we know
PokerStars will launch an online poker site and an online casino
It appears that when it does launch, PokerStars will be offering online casino games alongside their online poker product, as casino games were mentioned in both the press release as well as being prominently displayed on the PokerStarsNJ.com website.
This shouldn’t be overly surprising, considering monthly online casino revenue is currently six- to seven-times larger than online poker revenue in New Jersey.
Majors and Spin & Go’s will be available
In the press release, PokerStars announced it will be bringing versions of some of its major Sunday tournaments to New Jersey, as well as the extremely popular Spin & Go tournaments the company introduced in September of 2014.
The Spin & Go format — a fast-paced, three-person, jackpot tournament — should be a strong and popular product in the low-liquidity New Jersey market.
Former PokerStars players can resurrect their old accounts
According to the PokerStars New Jersey website, former PokerStars players have until May 31 to create a new PokerStars NJ account using their old screen-names and passwords.
Furthermore, PokerStars will credit these former players, “with a welcome offer of a VIP status, a Play Money chips balance and number of StarsCoin (formerly Frequent Player Points), based on your play history.” This offer must be claimed by May 31.
What the launch means for online gaming in New Jersey
Online poker implications
The hype surrounding the launch of PokerStars in New Jersey has become more tepid over the past year, but there is still an expectation that PokerStars will bring in new players who have been waiting for their favorite site to return, and reengage with disillusioned players who had poor early experiences with other New Jersey online poker operators.
The hope is PokerStars will launch a decent-sized marketing campaign, which will create a significant — albeit potentially temporary — spike in online poker traffic and revenue.
A chunk of the traffic is expected to come from the existing online poker sites in the market — Borgata, WSOP.com, PartyPoker, and 888. However, because of the small market liquidity, it’s likely a number of players will maintain accounts at all of the sites.
Online casino implications
With the addition of a PokerStars branded online casino to go along with ResortsCasino.com and MoheganSunCasino.com, Resorts will likely continue its upward iCasino revenue trend.
In fact, with the addition of online poker revenue and another potentially powerful online casino brand, we could see a major power shift in the market, with Resorts challenging Borgata for online gaming supremacy in the state, something no other operator has been able to accomplish to date for differing reasons.
Caesars does offer both online casino and online poker, but their online casino product has been perhaps the most disappointing in the market, which has kept them from becoming a serious challenger to Borgata.