New Jersey Approves Amaya, Allowing for Online Gambling

406156b8c2In New Jersey this past Wednesday, gambling regulators took a huge leap toward setting up a fledgling online betting industry, by approving the world’s largest poker website to offer Internet gambling in the Garden state.

The N.J. state Division of Gaming Enforcement said Amaya Inc. is approved, now allowed to offer online gambling through its popular sites, PokerStars and Full Tilt. The conglomerate, who is also affiliated with Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, told media that the approval basically gives permission for PokerStars to restart business in the United States. Amaya has previously received approvals from the DGE to “provide B2B online and land-based gaming solutions in New Jersey,” according to the company.

“The DGE’s review of PokerStars was extremely thorough and exhaustive, including a detailed review of Amaya’s operations and technology, sworn interviews with more than 70 individuals and visits to approximately a half dozen international jurisdictions,” company officials stated.

Of course, shares of Amaya soared by 14% on Thursday. The news is a massive development for Montreal-based Amaya who bought out PokerStars, the world’s biggest online poker company, last year.

New Jersey officials and many observers are saying that the entry of PokerStars will most likely reshape the state’s online betting industry, which in its infancy has 17 websites. Adding two more sites that have 95 million registered users. N.J. is among three others, alongside Delaware and Nevada, that is offering gambling online.

The door is now open, and with Amaya getting New Jersey’s stamp of approval, after such a long legal battle, it will help PokerStars in jurisdictions way outside the Garden State. It’s a decision that could help clear the reputation of the PokerStars brand, which became tarnished in 2011 when federal prosecutors in Manhattan shut down its U.S. web site, and sued the company for operating an illegal gambling business.

Internet gambling which began in New Jersey in November 2013 has shown gradual improvement. Last year it took in $122 million, and for the first eight months of this year it has brought in $96.7 million, an increase of 15.6 percent since a year before.

Amaya’s chairman, David Baazov, told media he was happy to offer locals real-money online gambling. “We look forward to bringing our popular brands, innovative technology, marketing prowess and world-class security and game integrity to the growing New Jersey online gaming market,” he said. The stipulation: players will have to be in New Jersey to gamble on Amaya’s sites.

Amaya bought PokerStars and Full Tilt in August 2014. It also owns StarsDraft, the European Poker Tour, PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, the Latin American Poker Tour and the Asia Pacific Poker Tour.

This approval in N.J. will probably help Amaya and PokerStars’ efforts in another state, California, where online gambling proponents are trying to get lawmakers to so the same, and hopefully open the country’s most lucrative state to online gambling. For Amaya, this is a huge victory.