The iGaming market in New Jersey has been active since late 2013, but in all that time, Atlantic City’s oldest gambling destination, Resorts Casino, had yet to get in on the action. That changed this week when the operator received approval from the state’s Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE). But going live now means launching an online gambling site without Resorts’ long-time partner, PokerStars.
Up until now, ResortsCasino.com was a play-money online casino. When the NJ DGE approved the transactional waiver for the operator to go ahead with real-money online gambling services, Resorts decided to advance the launch. As of Tuesday, ResortsCasino.com has been open 24 hours a day, accepting deposits, delivering bonuses and offering a full regime of internet casino games to legal-age players in New Jersey.
ResortsCasino.com teamed up with Sportech NYX Gaming (SNG), an amalgamation of Sportech and the NYX Gaming Group. As such, the online casino will be able to offer a new variety of games never before seen in the Garden State’s regulated iGaming sector. Of the 118 slots, table games and video poker selections currently gracing the games menu, approximately 1/3rd of them are games New Jersey players won’t find anywhere else.
Resorts Casino President and CEO Mark Giannantonio announced the impending launch earlier this week. “As New Jersey’s first casino destination, Resorts is committed to delivering the best-in-class online gaming experience in the Garden State by partnering with gaming leaders, including SNG Interactive…”
Giannantonio asserted that ResortsCasino.com will “feature the largest selection of casino slots and table games in the state of New Jersey as well as exclusive titles and highly coveted content that are unavailable anywhere else.” According to the ResortsCasino FAQ page, the starting line-up of 100+ games will increase to 300 in the first year.
Where does PokerStars fit in?
What the online poker community in New Jersey is surely itching to know is where PokerStars fits into all this. Back in July of 2013, several months before New Jersey launched its iGaming market, Resorts Casino signed a partnership deal with PokerStars. Despite changing hands a year later, PokerStars new owners at Amaya Gaming say their intentions to launch a PokerStars platform in conjunctions with Resorts Casino have not changed.
Eric Hollreiser, Head of Corporate Communications for Amaya Gaming, said earlier this week, “We’re happy to see Resorts preparing to launch its online presence as it has always planned. Amaya continues to work with the DGE toward approval to bring PokerStars to New Jersey. We remain in partnership with Resorts and looks forward to launching PokerStars following DGE approval.”
It’s not clear what the hold-up is regarding PokerStars approval in New Jersey. When Amaya first acquired Rational Group—PokerStars and Full Tilt along with it—it was believed that PokerStars application would be approved by Fall 2014. Unfortunately, that has not been the case.
NJ Senator Ray Lensiak has consistently laid the blame for the extensive delay upon the shoulders of Gov. Chris Christie. Sen. Lesniak alluded several times that the governor’s ties to Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson and a bid for the 2016 Presidential election have caused him to intentionally delay the process. But realistically, there’s no evidence to that end, and once his John Hancock went on the bill to pass iGaming legislation in February 2013, the governor no longer had any say in the industry’s progress. That task was assigned to the DGE, and the DGE alone.
PokerStars: Coming Soon or Absent in 2015?
As usual, speculations are being tossed about like hot potatoes as to what Resorts Casino’s launch really means for PokerStars. One side of the water cooler says the casino’s decision to go ahead without PokerStars means they must know that the online poker operator is not going to receive approval. The other side says it must mean that PokerStars is on the verge of approval, and Resorts is just prepping for it with the launch of its online casino.
No one but the DGE really knows where PokerStars stands. And until the operator’s application is either approved or rejected, all the speculating in the world isn’t going to answer anything.