PokerStars NJ Online Poker Approval Comes With Conditions

The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement released a pair of documents surrounding the licensing of PokerStars and Full Tilt. First, they released the 89-page report on their investigation of the purchase of PokerStars by Amaya last year.

Next, they released the transactional waiver to the public, one that is contingent on Amaya meeting certain conditions.

Transactional waiver issued – with conditions

Since last week’s announcement that Amaya would be licensed in New Jersey, we have been waiting on the official text of the transactional waiver and the DGE’s findings on their investigation. We finally received both on Friday.

The transactional waiver for Amaya and Resorts is a bit different from those issued to other entities in New Jersey. Their waiver actually is a “Transactional Waiver With Conditions,” with Amaya being required to meet certain conditions in order to operate and to continue operations in New Jersey.

The conditions that Amaya must meet are as follows:

• Amaya shall transfer the remaining funds of any New Jersey players that were not paid after Black Friday (April 15, 2011.) These funds must be in the state’s possession before PokerStars can operate in New Jersey.
• Four individuals presently employed by Amaya that also worked for pre-Black Friday PokerStars must be terminated. The DGE determined they “failed to establish the requisite good character, honesty and integrity required by the Act due to their involvement in the business activities of the PokerStars Entities between the enactment of UIGEA and Black Friday.” These employees must be fired by January 30, 2016.
• The following people are not permitted to be part of the company in any aspect – Isai Scheinberg, Mark Scheinberg, Pinhas Schapira, Yehuda Nir, Paul Telford, Paul Tate, Nelson Burtnick, Ray Bitar, Rafael Furst, or Chris Ferguson. The DGE is even requiring that Amaya contact them if any of these individuals so much as even contacts Amaya.
• The minutes of meetings of the Amaya Board of Directors, Compliance Committee and Audit Committee meeting must be submitted to the DGE along with any supporting documentation within 15 days of said meetings.
• Any complaints brought against Amaya, their subsidiaries or employees must be reported to the DGE.
• Amaya must keep the DGE informed on any expansions of gaming activities or new business conducted. Also, if their agreement with Resorts changes in any way, the DGE must be contacted in five business days.
• Finally, all business records must be available to the DGE for inspection whenever they demand them.

Seeing that these conditions must be met before PokerStars is permitted to operate a NJ online gambling site, it is unlikely that the launch will be a quick one. It now appears that those suggesting an early 2016 launch may be correct.

DOJ settlement and Amaya purchase led to licensing

In addition to the transactional waiver, the DGE also issued an 89-page report regarding the purchase of PokerStars and Full Tilt by Amaya, Inc. The report showed that PokerStars earned $44.3 million from New Jersey residents between the passage of the UIGEA and the Black Friday shutdown.

After Black Friday, PokerStars returned $5.01 million to NJ residents. There’s presently $427,000 in player funds still unclaimed that PokerStars must turn over as a condition of their license.

Ultimately, several factors led to the DGE approving Amaya for a license. Some of them are as follows:

• The DOJ agreement with PokerStars that permits them to operate in the United States if they operate where it is legal to do so.
• The separation of the Scheinbergs’ ownership in the company.
• The removal of all employees and management connected with operating the companies pre-Black Friday. This includes the removal of four employees mentioned in the TW.

In short, the DGE determined that the Amaya-run PokerStars is indeed a new company and separate from the one that operated in the United State pre-Black Friday. This is a huge decision that will have a major impact on other states as they decide whether to license PokerStars. Now the poker world will sit back and wait to see when PokerStars NJ actually launches.

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