Pala Poker is indefinitely delaying its launch into New Jersey due to the imminent approval of PokerStars.
In an interview this week with CalvinAyre.com, Pala Interactive CEO Jim Ryan credits the difficult player liquidity environment as the main setback for the company’s decision to fold on poker even though the network is ready to go.
“We put that on hold because we do expect PokerStars to enter the market, not that we would have grabbed a significant share because there are two very credible poker networks operating in the state of New Jersey at this point in time. Liquidity is obviously a challenge.”
In its partnership with the Borgata in Atlantic City, Pala rolled out its online casino to Garden State residents last November.
And while Ryan doesn’t seem overly optimistic regarding obtaining a sizable chunk of the online poker market on the heels of a PokerStars entry, quite the opposite holds true for the Pala casino. “The casino product, we actually think can take a meaningful share of that marketplace.”
Sharing Is Caring
The decision to abandon its poker platform in New Jersey is likely due to Pala recognizing that its brand is relatively unknown on the east coast. Competing against nationally renowned brands like Caesars’ World Series of Poker and 888poker, attracting players away from its shared pool would be a tall task for Pala. Add in PokerStars to the mix, and the challenge becomes nearly impossible.
One possible solution to help give the smaller rooms a viable chance is to introduce interstate pool sharing. Among the many states currently debating the legalization of online gambling is also the country’s most populated.
California has seen numerous attempts to regulate online poker over the last couple of years, but interest seems to be at its highest in 2015, with many lawmakers believing its passage could aid in the state’s ongoing economic crisis.
Should California’s state legislators come together and bring iGaming to its 38 million residents, Pala might stand to reap the greatest benefit. Through its land-based resort located 60 miles north of San Diego and interactive casino site already launched in NJ, Pala Interactive could quickly become a serious player in American Internet gambling. And with Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) hinting that pool sharing could arrive this year, Pala Poker could eventually become a force to be reckoned with on both coasts.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. PokerStars is still the world’s global Internet poker leader, and it’s not even close. With more than seven times the weekly cash player average of its nearest competitor, bringing PokerStars to the US is inevitable and critical to the long-term success of online poker in America.
The DGE has been dragging its feet for more than a year in approving PokerStars’ application following its acquisition by Amaya Gaming. While Governor Chris Christie says he has nothing to do with the holdup, State Senator Ray Lesniak (D-Union) has made comments that the governor’s close ties with Vegas magnate and anti-online gaming supporter Sheldon Adelson is cause for the delay.
Still, Lesniak feels confident that PokerStars will be welcomed into his state in the coming weeks. In early 2015, he said in a tweet that residents should expect the network to finally receive its approval in March.