PokerStars Officially Launches in New Jersey
This was a big week in online poker history as Monday marked the first day that PokerStars was up and running as a full-fledged real money internet poker room in a U.S. regulated market. PokerStars went through a soft launch period last Wednesday through this past Sunday as it and the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) tested everything out to make sure the poker room could run as expected. With the exception of a few registration problems, things went quite smoothly during the limited-time, limited-player period. As such, the DGE gave PokerStars the green light to officially launch on Monday at 12:01am ET.
And so far, so good. It is really what one would expect from PokerStars. The site uses the same software as it does in other countries, so it’s not like it had to break-in a new poker client. The site had already eclipsed 400 players by the end of the first morning, a nice number for an online poker room that can only accept players from one state. It remains to be seen exactly how many individual real money players PokerStars has attracted, as the number of players displayed in the upper-right corner of the Stars lobby counts, I believe, every instance of a player at a table (so if I was playing at two tables, it would count me as two players) and all play money players. Still, though, that was a good start.
In the late afternoon on Monday, that figure had ballooned above one thousand as people in New Jersey got home from work and school to finally get a chance to test out their fancy, new toy. Enthusiasm has died down a bit, as one might expect, but there are still a bit over 550 players logged on at about 5:30pm ET on Friday. Expect that number to increase this evening as more people settle into their computer chairs at home.
PokerScout currently ranks PokerStars second in the New Jersey market with a seven-day average of 140 cash game players, not far behind WSOP/888, which has 160. The Party Borgata Network as 100 players. Of course, that is a seven-day average and we are only in the fifth day, so PokerScout’s traffic figure will likely shoot up in the next few days.
While WSOP/888 and Party Borgata are likely nervous about the new, powerful competitor coming in and snatching up their customers (though the nice thing about online poker is that people can play on multiple sites at once), they are also hopeful, anticipating that PokerStars will elevate the visibility of and interest in online poker in New Jersey, thus expanding the market. So, even if the incumbents end up with a smaller piece of the pie, that piece could still be larger than it was last week if the entire pie is bigger.
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