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The Inside of Scoop – Is PokerStars.com becoming the 800-Pound Gorilla In New Jersey?

Editor Note: Jeremy Enke is an industry veteran most well known for his publications as well as his industry accomplishments. Jeremy also leads the community at Poker Affiliate Listings. Jeremy writes a weekly feature for Poker Affiliate Solutions on the fast-moving developments in the regulated U.S. online poker market.

Another week has gone by and the U.S. regulated online gambling market is still moving forward at a fast and furious pace. While there has not been any earth shattering developments in the regulated markets this past week, there is certainly no shortage of news to report on. So let’s dive in headfirst!

News & License Extensions Coming Out of Nevada

As expected, the player liquidity is continuing to grow amongst Nevada’s two regulated online poker rooms (UltimatePoker.com & WSOP.com). While UltimatePoker.com continues to maintain a 15% – 20% market share lead over it’s only competitor WSOP.com, we are beginning to see WSOP.com gain traction.

And when I say gain traction, I also mean they are opening up their wallets and purchasing media on popular poker sites such as Pokerfuse, Bluff, and TwoPlusTwo, just to name a few. We must also remember that WSOP.com currently has no affiliate program. So rest assured; anytime you see a WSOP.com banner, background promotion, or sponsored forum, this is paid advertising.

Also coming out of Nevada this week, the Nevada Gaming Control Commission (GCC) issued extensions to prepare for real money online gaming to MGM Resorts International, Boyd Gaming, and Golden Nugget. While these extensions were cited as “routine” by GCC, it does prove that launching a new online poker site into a regulated U.S. market is anything but routine. Thanks to our friends at CAP for making us aware of this.

First New Jersey Casino To Receive A Permit……Or A Clever Marketing Tactic and Photo Op?

Before we get into the 800-pound gorilla in the room, I do feel obligated to share some Inside Scoop regarding The Garden State for your reading delight!

If you follow the developments in the U.S. regulated gambling markets, then you have most certainly heard this past week (Oct. 9th) about Boyd’s Borgata Casino receiving the first New Jersey Internet gambling permit. And while the state Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) confirms “the casino was the first to file a complete application to offer online gambling”, we have yet to see an actual “permit” or documentation posted anywhere on an official New Jersey .gov website.

Sources close to The Inside Scoop have revealed that Boyd’s was indeed the “first” to file a completed application, as well as make a good faith down payment of approximately 20% on the $ 500k – $ 600k fee required for licensure. However, Boyd’s Borgata will still be required to successfully satisfy all the testing procedures set forth by the DGE with respect to software and transactions before receiving final licensure and permit.

Knowing this, we expect to see more New Jersey operators fast track the filing of their completed applications, as well as make good faith down payments themselves in the coming week. The Inside Scoop has also emailed our contact at the DGE and will report back confirmation on our suspicions when we hear back.

Don’t get us wrong, we 100% expect Boyd’s to receive full licensure and breeze through the “soft period” with flying colors; hence resulting in one very expensive piece of a paper called a permit. However as expert marketers in the online gambling industry, we know a GREAT marketing tactic when we see one. So with that said, Kudos Boyd’s Borgata on being the first to flex your marketing muscles in New Jersey and get your brand published on thousands of websites.

New Jersey & The 800-Pound Gorilla Commonly Referred To As PokerStars.com

While every land-based casino in Atlantic City has partnered up with an online operator in preparation of November 26th, there is an 800-Pound gorilla in the shadows. That gorilla is none other than the world’s largest online poker operator, PokerStars.com.

With their proven online poker platform on top of their existing brand recognition in the U.S., there is no doubt that if PokerStars.com is allowed to enter the New Jersey market, they will unequivocally become the market leader in that state.

Is PokerStars.com a virtual shoe-in to gain licensure in New Jersey? I mean after-all; they are flushed with cash, have partnered with Resorts Casino Hotel, and are endorsed by multiple WSOP champions. Not to mention, their software is tested and proven.

While this is all true, there is no telling what type of politics and lobbying are going on behind the scenes between not only PokerStars.com and New Jersey officials, but also the multiple PokerStars.com competitors. While Poker Stars entering the market would be great for players and the overall industry, it could be a nightmare for other land-based operators wishing to compete in the regulated online poker space.

Should Poker Stars enter a regulated New Jersey and take a stranglehold on market share, you can bet they will then be leading the way in 2014 when poker compacts and intrastate gambling begin to develop. Every other online poker operator is well aware of this and would love nothing more than to see Poker Stars denied.

While The Inside Scoop doesn’t have any insider information at this time, we can report via PokerNews that New Jersey State Sen. Ray Lesniak is extremely confident that PokerStars will receive licensure. And while Lesniak was sure to clarify that this was just his opinion, we at The Inside Scoop are well aware of how U.S. politics work. The success of operators in New Jersey and other states will have just as much to do with investments in technology and marketing as it will with lobbyists.

We suggest everyone keep’s their eyes on PokerStars.com. Should they be one of the first operators to go live in New Jersey, it will be the equivalent of watching Secretariat take off out of the gates and never look back.

Interested in having more discussions about the regulated U.S. online gambling industry? Join our rapidly growing LinkedIn Group filled with fellow industry veterans and executives. Click Here To Join U.S. Online Gambling Industry Alerts.

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