Amaya received regulatory approval Wednesday to operate its PokerStars and Full Tilt brands in New Jersey, according to a department spokeswoman. Last June, Amaya Gaming, a Canadian supplier of gaming equipment, with the support of financial titans Blackstone and Blackrock, paid $4.9 billion to acquire PokerStars, the world leader in online real-money poker.
According to politickernj.com, PokerStars grew like a virus until the Department of Justice slammed on the brakes in 2011, dubbing the firms illegal gambling operations and cracking down on PokerStars and its competitors, some of which like Full Tilt Poker, turned out to be keeping dubious books. PokerStars paid a $731 settlement, acquired the assets and liabilities of Full Tilt and its founder, Israeli founder Isai Scheinberg remains under indictment.
Now, more than four years after Black Friday saw both PokerStars and Full Tilt deal their last hands in the U.S., the two sites are headed to the Garden State after the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) after Amaya, owners of the two brands, received approval from regulators.
The division granted a transactional waiver to six Amaya subsidiaries to operate the PokerStars and FullTilt brands in New Jersey through a partnership with Internet gaming permit holder Resorts Digital Gaming. Resorts Casino AC has held an operator’s licernse in New Jersey since 2014, and has also signed a deal (originally with former Stars parent Rational Group US, but now with Amaya), to market the Stars and Tilt brands. When the rollout does come, it will include other forms of online gaming as well, as both PokerStars and Full Tilt (now known as Full Tilt Gaming) have added casino-style games to their offerings over the past year.
Amaya Inc. didn’t say when it intends to launch in New Jersey. It could be weeks or months until we actually see PokerStars poker tournaments and cash games running in New Jersey.