Pala Interactive has decided not to launch its online poker product in New Jersey even though it is “largely… ready to go.” According to CEO Jim Ryan, Pala Poker was put on hold because the company expects PokerStars to soon be entering the market.
The company launched its online casino product in New Jersey this past November in partnership with the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City. It had planned on launching Pala Poker in Q1 of 2015, but in an interview with CalvinAyre.com’s Becky Liggero, Ryan said that the plan has changed. “We put that on hold because we do expect PokerStars to enter the market,” Ryan stated about Pala Poker.
Ryan revealed that the company did not expect to garner a large market share anyway, but that the lack of potential liquidity in the market was also a contributing factor in the decision. “[L]iquidity is obviously a challenge, we’ve seen one poker network already exit the marketplace,” Ryan said in reference to the closing of Ultimate Poker last year.
Ultimate Gaming also operated an online casino in New Jersey. Ryan thinks the online casino aspect of Pala’s business will do just fine, but “[t]he poker challenge is a bit deeper,” he explained “especially on the back of a PokerStars entry.”
PokerStars is still awaiting the final approval of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) before it is allowed to launch online gaming in the state. No formal reason has been given for the delays experienced by Amaya Gaming, parent company of PokerStars, but some industry insiders and at least one legislator believes that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is behind the delays.
When asked about PokerStars pending igaming application, State Senator Ray Lesniak told Business Insider, “Christie put a stop to it. With a high degree of confidence it’s apparent that’s exactly what has happened.” Lesniak had previously predicted that PokerStars would launch in New Jersey by March.