PokerStars USA represents the global online poker giant’s three seperate online poker sites active in the United States.
While all sites are run and owned by the same company, PokerStars does not combine its player pools across state lines. This could change in the near future, and as soon as the legal environment allows for it, PokerStars USA will represent a single US network that will bring all these sites together in a single player pool.
The biggest obstacle for the PokerStars network in the US was the 2018 interpretation of the Wire Act, which has prevented gambling providers from crossing state lines. However, recent court decisions with regards to this interpretation by the DOJ look promising.
The DOJ has also passed up on the opportunity to appeal the decision by the First Circuit Court, which establishes that the Wire Act applies only to sports betting. This means that the path is now paved for PokerStars in the US to start working on creating a real network that will combine player pools across state lines.
$50 in freeplay
100% up to $600 with bonus code STARS600
$50 in freeplay
100% up to $600 with bonus code STARS600
$50 in freeplay
100% up to $600 with bonus code STARS600
PokerStars is the largest and probably the best-known online poker operator on the global scale. Since 2014, the site has been owned by The Stars Group. In 2020, it was acquired by global gaming giant Flutter.
As for PokerStars USA, the operator was initially refused entry due to its decision to continue catering to American players after the passage of the UIGEA. However, the company has eventually made it into the regulated market in the States, and has led the market in many ways since with its best in class online poker product, superb mobile app and top class technical support.
The first USA PokerStars site to go live was PS New Jersey, which launched in 2016. After that, the operator launched PokerStars Pennsylvania in 2019, followed by the launch of PokerStars Michigan in 2021.
Although PokerStars in the US is currently live in three states, there is no shared liquidity between the sites. The current legislation on the federal level does not yet allow for this, so the room continues to operate within confines of individual states.
Changes are on the horizon, though, and we are likely to see the PokerStars US network go live in full capacity in the near future. With the DOJ passing on the opportunity to appeal the court decision reverting the Wire Act interpretation to encompass only sports betting, the future of interstate poker looks very bright.
As of May 2021, PokerStars in the USA operates three state-regulated rooms. These are:
All three rooms share a lot of similarities, the most notable one being the same software used across all regulated markets. Players in the US get to play on the same, top-quality platform available to the rest-of-the-world player pool.
However, individual rooms offer different tournament schedules, cash game limits, and game formats, so there are some differences to be aware of. We are bringing you the quick overview of all PokerStars USA sites with links to in-depth reviews if you want more information.
Data provided by GameIntel
PokerStars NJ was launched in 2016 after the company was finally given the green light to apply for the license, which was subsequently granted. It was a major step into the young but promising regulated online poker market of the United States.
New players can choose from two welcome bonus options:
The operator has brought some variety to the online poker tournaments’ scene in the US. In addition to daily and weekly tournaments, PokerStars NJ is also home to a major tournament series – New Jersey Championship of Online Poker, or NJCOOP for short. The series traditionally features more than 50 events and more than $1,000,000 in guaranteed prizes.
Players in New Jersey also have access to Spin & Go tournaments, a hugely popular, jackpot-style format, offering a chance to win up to 1000 times the buy-in.
When it comes to cash games, the New Jersey branch of the PokerStars USA operations features several variations beyond Hold’em, such as Omaha, Razz, Seven Card Stud, and Five Card Draw. Stakes range from $0.01/0.02 to $25/50.
After successfully operating in New Jersey for several years, PokerStars has expanded its presence in the regulated US market by acquiring a license to operate in Pennsylvania in 2019. This was the first and, at the time, only online poker operator in the state. The room’s land-based partner is Mount Airy Casino.
New players here can also look forward to a nice welcome bonus, choosing between $50 in tournament tickets after playing just one cash hand or a 100% match up to $600.
Following on the experience from NJ, PokerStars PA continued to go strong with the tournament offering, creating PACOOP and PASCOOP, big online series offering a great selection of events and big prize pools across the board.
Tournament players also get to enjoy a nice leaderboard, offering additional prizes and motivation to keep the grind going.
When it comes to cash games, the range of stakes is similar to that found on other PokerStars US sites, i.e. from $0.01/0.02 up to $25/50. The selection of game variations is quite impressive, as it includes Hold’em, Omaha, Stud and Stud 8, Razz, 2-7 Triple Draw, 8 Game, and more.
PokerStars MI was added to the US PokerStars presence in January of 2021, becoming the first regulated poker room in the state.
Like the rest, the operator welcomes new players in style, with two welcome offers to choose from:
The operator wasted no time launching Michigan Championship of Online Poker (MICOOP), creating something for all tournament fans’ in the state to look forward to.
Players also have access to the operator’s trademark Spin & Go tournaments and a great variety of cash game options across all stakes, from Hold’em and Omaha (including 5 Card Omaha) to Stud, Razz, 2-7 Triple Draw, and 8 Game tables.
While PokerStars in the United States is primarily focused on online poker, the company took full advantage of its gaming licenses in the states they operate in, launching other products, namely casino and sportsbook.
|Pennsylvania||Yes||Yes (Stars Casino PA)|
|Michigan||Yes (Fox Bet MI)||Yes (Stars Casino MI)|
Players do not have to make new accounts to access these different products. As long as they have a poker account with the operator in the particular state, they can use it to access all other available products as well.
Following the events of Black Friday in April of 2011, the online poker environment in the US has changed dramatically. All major operators were forced to leave the market, leaving players with very limited options in the form of smaller, unregulated, and questionable international sites.
As bad these events were for online poker, they did serve as the much-needed push for the regulation. Regulating online poker on the federal level was not really a possibility, but individual states could pass their individual bills.
It all started with Nevada in 2012. Being the gambling hub of the US, it was hardly a surprise this was the first state to have regulated online poker. However, PokerStars US would have to wait for a few more years as Nevada’s gambling bill included what is known as the “bad actors” clause.
In short, this meant that any operator that continued catering to US players after the passage of the infamous UIGEA (in October of 2006) could not apply for a license. PokerStars, as you might know, was one of these sites, as they only left the US after Black Friday.
Delaware was the second state to pass the iGaming bill, only days after Nevada. Delaware did not include the bad actor’s clause in the law text, so there were no obstacles for PokerStars to try and apply for a gaming license. The operator did exactly that when the state lottery invited interested operators to apply in 2013.
However, the room failed to acquire the license in the end as Delaware Lottery decided to go with 888 and Scientific Games. So, PokerStars turned their sights to the only other regulated state at the time.
The first real opportunity for PokerStars in the US came with New Jersey. The state passed the online gambling legislation in 2012 and the final language of the bill did not include the bad actors clause. This meant that the room was free to apply for the license.
However, because of its past, the room still had to go through a very rigorous process to actually acquire a license. The NJDGE took full 14 months to review the application. Owned by Amaya during that period, PokerStars had to prove it was worthy of participation in the NJ regulated market.
In the end, the regulator was satisfied with the results of the review, which included sworn interviews with more than 70 individuals, and granted the license in 2015.
But there were more issues to overcome. All state laws require online operators to have a physical presence in the state through a licensed brick-and-mortar venue and NJ was no exception. So, before the company could start operating in the state, it had to purchase or partner up with a physical casino in Atlantic City.
After some back and forth and a failed attempt to buy a casino in AC, PokerStars has finally partnered up with the Resorts Casino. With that partnership in place and the gaming license issued by the NJDGE, the room went live in the state in March of 2016, setting foundations for PokerStars in the US.
After initial enthusiasm, there came a rather long quiet period for online poker in the States. Looking to boost their numbers, the first three regulated states entered an interstate compact, allowing them to share player pools across state borders. However, not much else was happening.
Several states have been toying with the idea of online poker regulation, but there was no real movement. Bills were proposed, rejected, and redrafted, but regulated online poker remained limited to the initial triumvirate.
Then, in 2018, Pennsylvania passed the all-encompassing online gambling bill, covering casino gaming, sports betting, and online poker. A year later, in 2019, first online casinos went live in the states, and some month later, the state got its first online poker room in PokerStars PA.
Since there were no legal obstacles, the operator was quick to take the opportunity and improve the presence of PokerStars in the USA. For a couple of years, PokerStars was the only online poker operator in the state, eventually joined by Borgata Poker PA and BetMGM Poker PA in 2021.
Michigan and West Virginia were the last two states to pass online poker laws. Both states regulated online gambling in 2019. In Michigan, PokerStars was the first online poker room to go live in 2021.
West Virginia still has no online poker despite the legislation. The size of the market is the biggest limiting factor. With the population of around 1.8 million, the state does not represent a big enough opportunity for major operators to apply for a license.
|Year||Legal developments||Significance for PokerStars USA|
|2012||Nevada launches online poker||PokerStars cannot apply for a license due to “bad actors” clause|
|2013||Online poker bill goes live in NJ||WSOP NJ and Borgata first operators; PokerStars joins in 2016|
|2018||Pennsylvania regulates online poker||PokerStars becomes the first poker operator in the state in 2019|
|2021||Michigan passes an iGaming bill||PokerStars is the first operator to go live with online poker|
Although PokerStars was not the first room to enter the regulated market in the US, the operator has achieved many important milestones over the years it has been active in the regulated states. This applies primarily to MTTs, which are PokerStars’ specialty.
PokerStars in the US has done a lot to transform the online tournament scene. They replicated what they did in NJ in Michigan and Pennsylvania as well.
Running large tournament series with dozens of events and big prize pools was definitely the biggest contribution of PokerStars in the USA market. However, there are other important highlights that are worth mentioning.
They were the first operator to take on the newly regulated markets in PA and MI. While others, like BetMGM and Borgata, hesitated with their online poker product, PokerStars wasted no time. Thanks to this decision, players in both states did not have to wait too long for the opportunity to play online poker.
As of right now, PokerStars has presence in three out of six regulated US states. As mentioned, West Virginia is too small of a market to be interesting on its own, while Nevada has the “bad actors” clause preventing their access, and Delaware operates a state monopoly with a single licensed provider.
So, what is in the immediate future for PokerStars in the US? The operator will definitely look to combine player pools between its currently operating rooms in NJ, PA, and MI. The right legal environment for this to happen could come about very soon, and it is safe to assume PokerStars will waste no time creating what is likely to be the largest US poker network.
Of course, there is no reason to think that US PokerStars will stop on just these three states. The company will be on the lookout to enter any new and interesting regulated markets, just like they did in Pennsylvania and Michigan.
The big question is, what states will come next, and how important they will be for the PokerStars presence in the United States. West Virginia will definitely be an option if if joins the MSIGA and allows operators to connect their player pools with the wider market.
Right now, Illinois and Connecticut look like some of the most likely candidates to launch regulated online poker. The relevant bills could be passed sometime in 2021, but it will probably take about a year from the legislation to actually launching any sites.
Of the two, Illinois will likely attract the attention of PokerStars US. With the population of around 12.7 million, it would be neck-to-neck with Pennsylvania, which is currently the largest regulated state in the country.
However, the online gambling bill in Illinois could include the bad actors clause, which would prevent PokerStars from entering the state market. Of course, this could easily change in the final version of the bill as has happened with some other states, such as New Jersey.
All in all, prospects for PokerStars in the US look pretty good. The operator has taken a strong foothold in several key markets, and it has the necessary resources and know-how to continue the expansion.
Yes, PokerStars is available in the US, but only in a handful of states at this point in time. Only players physically present in Michigan, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania can play online poker on PokerStars US.
PokerStars in the US is fully legal as the operator is licensed by individual states in which it offers its services, namely MI, PA, and NJ. State regulators have issued relevant licenses for PokerStars in the US, making it a completely safe and legal option for online poker in these states.
No, at least not at this point in time. The room only accepts players from the particular jurisdiction it is licensed in, so players from PA cannot at the moment play against those in NJ. However, this is likely to change in the near future. If PokerStars in the US is able to combine its player pools into one, they would become the largest regulated US online poker network.
No, you have to be physically located within one of the states where the room is licensed to be able to play for real money. Players do not have to be residents of these states as PokerStars is open to all US residents, but when playing for real money, every player must be within the borders of the licensing state.
Just like you cannot play from other US states, you cannot play on any of the PokerStars US sites from Europe, either. This is unlikely to change even if interstate compacts are allowed in the future. It will probably take a while before US players are able to play against the rest of the world on PokerStars or any other US-licensed site.
To be able to register with any of the sites PokerStars USA poker sites, you will need a SSN and a physical address in the US. So, it is not possible to travel to the United States as a tourist and play online poker while there, even if you are staying in one of the states where PokerStars is licensed.
Yes, all US PokerStars sites offer mobile apps players can download and use on their handheld devices. The same rules apply, though, meaning that players still have to be physically present in the state that licenses the site they want to play on.
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