Online poker players in New Jersey may soon get their wish, as during a recent conference call Amaya Gaming CEO David Baazov said he expects PokerStars to launch “in the next quarter.” Chris Grove of OnlinePokerReport.com later confirmed that Baazov was speaking of Q3.
This is not your ordinary launch rumors. While it’s far from a certainty, this is the CEO of the company giving a fairly tight target date.
Rumors of an impending PokerStars launch were rampant following the sale to Amaya in June, with all signs pointing to the company receiving a license in the fall of 2014. But this is the first time Amaya/PokerStars has offered a timeline, and the first public comments that set any kind of goal posts in regards to the company’s NJ license since the company ran into licensing delays that caused their purported launch date in early October to come and go.
A 2015 third quarter launch date puts the return of PokerStars to NJ sometime between July 1 and September 30, which means PokerStars could be up and running when the World Series of Poker Main Event kicks off in early July – the opening flights for the WSOP ME take place on July 6th, 7th, and 8th.
That being said, it’s more likely PokerStars would launch after the conclusion of the WSOP Main Event, when the tournament plays down to the final nine players, on July 14th.
Here is why.
Benefits of a launching during the WSOP
Launching during the tail-end of the WSOP, particularly during the Main Event, would allow PokerStars to capitalize on what is typically a peak time of year for online poker participation as well as headlines about poker.
In this way, PokerStars and the WSOP could almost feed off of the attention each created.
Furthermore, it gives PokerStars a chance to steal some of the thunder (and players) from what will likely be their #1 competitor in the U.S., Caesars and their WSOP.com online poker room in New Jersey.
That being said, the two companies have agreed to put their differences aside and work together to expand regulated online gambling in the U.S., and it seems unlikely PokerStars would so blatantly step on Caesars toes during their flagship event.
Benefits of a post-WSOP launch
In addition to being the equivalent of extending an olive branch toward Caesars, there are three other reasons a PokerStars launch after the World Series of Poker concludes in the middle of July might be even more beneficial to the company.
The first reason is a post-WSOP launch would leave all of the headlines to PokerStars.
No matter how newsworthy a story the return of PokerStars to the U.S. would be (and it will likely be THE poker news story for over a week), nothing is going to trump the WSOP Main Event for headlines.
The second reason is WSOP.com is the exclusive home for WSOP satellites, and even though online poker players have been clamoring for the return of PokerStars, the allure of WSOP satellite tournaments in the days leading up to the Main Event will likely keep many players at the WSOP.com New Jersey online poker room.
The final reason PokerStars might benefit from a post-WSOP launch is with the WSOP taking place in Nevada, a number of New Jersey grinders, satellite winners, and poker enthusiasts, will likely be out of state for the Main Event.
When your state’s average online poker traffic is around 300 players, having 50 or perhaps even upwards of 100 of those people out of town is a big deal.
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