With New Jersey’s soft launch date for online gaming only six days away, the state’s Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) has released a list of more companies who will receive transactional waivers to offer services to the iGaming industry. But yet again, Rational Group, PokerStars parent company, has been snubbed by regulators and has yet to receive a license to operate in the state.
The delay in approval could mean that PokerStars won’t be able to launch alongside with its competitors for the trial period beginning on November 21. During that time, the DGE plans to make sure that all online gambling operators comply with regulations laid out by the state.
But as Rational Group was kept waiting, officials awarded several other casinos and software providers with licenses last week: Caesars Interactive Entertainment, bwin.party, 888, Ultimate Poker, Betfair and Amaya Gaming were all approved by the department.
PokerStars’ failure to receive a license could also mean that they won’t receive one at all, although officials have stated that exclusion from the list doesn’t mean an operator won’t be approved later on.
The delay is likely tied to PokerStars’ participation in the US online poker market post UIGEA. Some argue that the company’s actions during that period should trigger the “bad actor” clause, which would exclude certain operators the state feels has engaged in nefarious activity.
A denial by the DGE would be a huge blow to Rational Group, as the company has gone through many trials and tribulations to get set up in the state. Their first attempt at putting down roots in New Jersey crashed and burned when the Atlantic Club took advantage of a technicality in their purchase agreement with Stars, canceled it and walked away with $11 million. Interestingly, though, the casino has recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and seemingly not found a potential iGaming partner after their deal with Rational Group fell through.
But Stars was not deterred, almost immediately after the Atlantic Club fiasco, they partnered with Resorts to offer online gaming in the state.
PokerStars still has a chance to receive a license before the soft launch, but it’s looking less likely. On the Casino Control Commission’s agenda, neither Rational Group nor PokerStars is included on next week’s docket.