Amaya Inc has earmarked 21 March as the date it will finally launch its PokerStars brand in New Jersey. The launch quickly follows the September 2015 authorisation by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) to operate the PokerStars and Full Tilt brands in the State. Amaya currently expects to conduct an interim testing period with the DGE and a beta period for a limited player base beginning in mid-March.
David Baazov, Chairman and CEO of Amaya (pictured), commented: “PokerStars is the global leader in online poker and trusted by its customers for its robust and innovative technology, world-class security and game-integrity. We are honored and excited to now bring these experiences to New Jersey. We’re also thankful to Morris Bailey and the fine team at Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City and look forward to a successful collaboration.”
Bailey, who owns Resorts, added: “Resorts Casino Hotel continues to be the preferred Atlantic City partner and home for outstanding global brands. First with Mohegan Sun and Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville and now, with PokerStars joining that portfolio, Resorts is poised to offer players the best online and bricks & mortar casino experiences anywhere. We expect that the launch of PokerStars will further spur the positive momentum we have already made in the New Jersey online gaming market.”
The PokerStars offering in New Jersey will be at www.pokerstarsnj.com and the company said it would ‘use the same stringent verification, technology, account segregation and responsible gaming practices to regulate player activity that the brand has pioneered elsewhere globally’.
The re-introduction of the PokerStars brand to US players was considered to be part of Amaya’s strategy when the firm bought the group out originally and it seems that part of the strategy is coming to the fore. However the transaction still has some shadows hanging over it.
Only this week the company was moved to appeal the Kentucky trial court order for $870 million in damages against its companies, posting a $100 million bond to hold off enforcement while the appeals process is ongoing. The Kentucky government was pursuing PokerStars for alleged losses by Kentucky residents who played real-money poker on PokerStars’ website during a period between 2006 and 2011.
Amaya had said it will continue to vigorously challenge the trial court’s order. It had also previously said that any fines could be recoverable from PokerStars’ previous owners, however they have poured cold water on that idea.
Amaya explained: “In late-January, pursuant to and in accordance with the procedures set forth in the merger agreement governing the acquisition of the PokerStars business, a subsidiary of Amaya submitted a notice of claim to the sellers’ representative and escrow agent seeking indemnification for losses and potential losses caused by breaches under the merger agreement and requesting, among other things, that the escrow agent retain the then-remaining balance of the escrow fund established under the merger agreement in an aggregate amount equal to approximately US$300 million.
“Amaya has since received a notice from the sellers’ representative initially disputing all claims set forth in Amaya’s notice of claim. The disputed indemnity claims and release of the escrow funds will be resolved in accordance with the provisions of the merger agreement and escrow agreement.”
Amaya warned that there can be no assurance that its appeal will be successful or that its notice of claim will result in any amounts in the escrow fund being remitted to Amaya or that any of Amaya’s estimates of potential losses will reimbursed by the sellers or otherwise.