DGE Approves Pala Interactive while PokerStars Continues to Wait

new jersey gamingAs 2014 comes to a close the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) is apparently playing a frustrating game of Red Light/Green Light with their iGaming licenses; a game that has somewhat surprised and frustrated the online poker community.

On October 31, Pala Interactive was given the go ahead to launch an online gaming site in the Garden State by the DGE, while at the same time PokerStars continues to be stymied in their attempt to procure an iGaming license in the U.S.

Both decisions (the approval of Pala and the prolonging of PokerStars application) came as a bit of a shock.

Pala Interactive

On October 31 the New Jersey DGE gave their seal of approval to a transactional waiver between Pala Interactive and Borgata, allowing the duo to launch an online gaming site in the state.

Pala is expected to launch an online casino in the very near future, with the launch of an online poker room currently slated for early 2015.

The reason Pala’s approval was somewhat surprising and raised a few eyebrows has to do with the company’s CEO, Jim Ryan.

Ryan has many ties and connections to the online poker industry and online poker sites, some of which are quite dubious.

Most recently he was the CEO of bwin.party, but resigned from that position in January of 2013 to spend time with his family in Canada, which many In the industry interpreted as Ryan doing his part to help facilitate bwin.party’s licensing in the burgeoning U.S. markets. This reasoning made even more sense when Ryan decided to pass on family time, and turned up as the CEO of Pala Interactive later in 2013.

The reason Ryan may have left Party has to do with his previous employer, Excapsa, the parent company of Ultimate Bet. During Ryan’s tenure as CEO (from 2003-2006/2007), an insider cheating scandal was uncovered. Ryan was never linked to the cheating, but his name did come up in a secretly recorded conversation from 2008 that implies he may have had some type of knowledge of the cover up of the scandal before jumping ship and landing at partypoker.

It’s unclear why Ryan would have been a persona non gratis at partypoker, yet his involvement with Pala was ok’ed by the DGE.

PokerStars still in Limbo

Meanwhile in the Isle of Man… PokerStars license application has inexplicably remained in the “pending” column.

If the U.S. online gambling industry is a football than PokerStars appears to be Charlie Brown.

The lack of an official response from Amaya or the New Jersey DGE has unfortunately left the entire poker industry wondering precisely what is the holdup when it comes to PokerStars license application.

With each passing day the poker community has grown more and more speculative, with new theories seemingly sprouting every day, as everything from quid pro quo politics to stringent software testing have been cited as potential reasons. But as Lau Tzu stated 2,500 years ago, “Those who know do not say. Those who say do not know.” And so it appears to be in New Jersey.


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