PokerStars should receive its New Jersey online gambling go-ahead by March, according to state Senator Ray Lesniak (pictured). The senator, who has been a fierce champion of the gaming industry in New Jersey, made the prediction in response to queries via Twitter. When asked why Stars’ application has continued to languish, Lesniak suggested it was down to “more due diligence window dressing” on the part of the state Division of Gaming Enforcement.
For the record, this isn’t the first time Lesniak has made such a prediction. In September, Lesniak suggested Stars would be popping a US-made bottle of champagne within “weeks, not months.” On Friday, Lesniak offered his apologies, saying he “didn’t factor in [Las Vegas Sands chairman Sheldon] Adelson’s influence.”
Adelson is vehemently against the spread of online gambling in the US via his Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG) and his support for the Restore America’s Wire Act (RAWA). In October, Adelson told attendees at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas that Amaya Gaming’s acquisition of Stars had done nothing to expunge the illegality that resulted in the Black Friday criminal charges against Stars and thus Stars had no business doing business on US shores.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is reportedly very keen to secure the Republican party’s nomination for president in the 2016 election campaign. Adelson is one of the GOP’s top campaign donors and would presumably frown on any prospective nominee who failed to do their utmost to keep Stars out. Asked why Christie might risk Adelson’s ire, Lesniak said “Adelson’s play to ban eGaming in Congress is dead and PokerStars new ownership too formidable to deny.”
In related news, the Associated Press reported that the New Jersey poker sites of WSOP.com and 888poker.com would begin sharing liquidity as of Monday. Caesars Interactive Entertainment, which operates WSOP.com, believes more bodies at the tables will give a boost to the state’s sagging regulated online poker market, which hit a new record low revenue of $1.87m in November, barely half its January 2014 peak of $3.4m. The state is due to release December’s numbers on Wednesday (14).