PokerStars Delays in New Jersey Related to Amaya Purchase of Rational Group

Posted on: September 23, 2015, 04:31h. 

Last updated on: September 23, 2015, 04:32h.

David Rebuck PokerStars New Jersey
David Rebuck says that he wants to make sure his department’s decision on whether to license PokerStars in New Jersey can survive the harsh scrutiny it will receive. (Image: Ben Fogletto/Press of Atlantic City)

Poker fans in New Jersey have been waiting patiently for news on when or if Amaya would receive approval from state regulators to begin operating in the Garden State.

A new interview with New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) Director David Rebuck may have shined some light on the situation, though it didn’t come with any firm news as to when the public would get an answer about the fate of PokerStars New Jersey.

Rebuck spoke to Roger Gros of Global Gaming Business News during their Global Gaming Business Podcast last week to talk about the many gaming issues that he deals with in New Jersey.

Not surprisingly, the PokerStars licensing issue was front and center during the conversation, with Rebuck sharing some insight into the process.

PokerStars Application Initially Suspended in 2013

To fully understand the situation, it’s important to know the history behind PokerStars’ attempts to enter the New Jersey market.

In late 2013, the DGE suspended the company’s application for two years, due largely to the fact that there was still an outstanding federal indictment against founder Isai Scheinberg, and that many executives were part of the decision to continue to allow PokerStars to operate in the United States after the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act had been enacted.

However, the DGE noted that they would “consider a request for relief to reactivate the application if significantly changed circumstances are demonstrated.” To many, this meant a change in leadership, something that took place when Amaya purchased the Rational Group (parent company of PokerStars and Full Tilt) last year.

Sure enough, that purchase prompted Amaya to ask New Jersey to reconsider the PokerStars application, and the DGE has been looking into the issue ever since.

Rebuck Says Decision Must Be Professional and Accurate

In the podcast interview, Rebuck noted that it was this purchase that was the major focus of the review, rather than Amaya itself.

He stated that the DGE had been sending agents to “half a dozen foreign countries” as a part of their investigation, and that about 80 sworn interviews have been taken in relation to the Rational Group purchase.

While the long delay is frustrating for poker players in New Jersey, as well as Amaya itself and anyone interested in seeing Internet poker progress in the United States, Rebuck made it clear that this wasn’t his focus.

Instead, the fact that this was a major decision that could have ramifications even beyond his state was something that made it important to him that the DGE made the best decision possible.

“We’re going to do this in a very professional way which will be published to the world, because whatever decisions we come down on will be scrutinized, and some will hate it and some will love it,” he said.

As much as the decision was important to the poker world, however, Rebuck made it clear that it was important to the DGE as well. In Rebuck’s mind, such a scrutinized decision had the potential to undermine the credibility of his department if it were done hastily or sloppily, something he would not allow to happen.

“It will be done in a way that I can, through this division, have pride in saying this is accurate,” Rebuck said. “I’m not going to be the person that sabotages the work of this great division for the last 35 years.