PokerStars USA | Back in NJ & More States to Come in 2019?

Updated Aug. 9, 2019 – Online poker is now expected to launch in Pennsylvania in the fall. PokerStars is one of the companies expected to be operational on launch day. The company has the green light to offer games but federal laws have delayed launch of a Pennsylvania-facing client. The Pennsylvania gaming board is still optimistic the state will be able to offer online poker before the end of the year.

PokerStars gained approval to operate in New Jersey in the fall of 2015, and New Jersey only. Their site,, went live on March 21, 2016, but only for those physically located in the state of New Jersey can play. It’s play money for all other states. PokerStarsNJ is offering real money online poker as well as casino games such as slots, blackjack, and roulette to name a few.

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PokerStars is partnered with Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, and their main competition in the state is WSOP/888 and Borgata/PartyPoker. Pennsylvania is the most recent state to legalize online poker and could be the second state to welcome PokerStars in the USA.

I recommend Ignition Poker as the best alternative, and it’s preferred by many to state ran sites for those not located within New Jersey borders. The other alternatives we at recommend are Bovada, BetOnline, SportsBetting, ACR, Black Chip Poker and Intertops. As state by state rollouts occur we will continue to keep you updated on when PokerStars will make it to your state.

Can You Play PokerStars in the USA?

PokerStars, also owner of Full Tilt, sold their gambling business to Amaya Gaming for $4.9 billion in a legal strategy to enter the U.S. under the pretense that they are a ‘new company’. PokerStars will be in more USA states in the near future. Players are still choosing to play at legit offshore sites such as Ignition Poker and BetOnline, due to 50 state acceptance. This sale technically nullified any bad actor clauses, although California has steps that might disregard this company ‘rinse’ in avoiding the bad actor clause (but politics are always at play, hence the delay).

PokerStars logo

Real money online poker play will only be accessible if you are visiting or live within New Jersey. You might also have to have 3 (three) wifi networks within your area for geolocation purposes.

Pokerstars signed a deal with the Morongo Tribe in April 2014 with intent to facilitate online poker (via Pokerstars) for the tribe immediately upon California online poker regulation (when, not a matter of ‘if’). On November 11, 2014, the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians in California also partnered with PokerStars. Competing poker sites are exacting the “bad actor clause” to keep them out of California (as was expected).

I’m recommending all players within Nevada or Delaware to play at the WSOP, in the meantime. They have the largest ‘legalized and licensed’ real money player base at this time. If you do not live in either Nevada or Delaware, I highly recommend Ignition Poker or which is a safe and trusted offshore site to service all 50 USA states. On the real money poker sites reviews page, I provide a comprehensive look at how I rank each online poker site and what factors I consider most important when reviewing online poker rooms.

Make no mistake, online poker is definitely legal in the USA. It’s a bit harder for operators to get the banks and credit card companies to comply but it’s 100% legal for the individual players.

How Many Players on Pokerstars?

PokerStars remains the largest poker site on the internet with tens of thousands of players logging in on a weekly basis. PokerStars traffic is far superior to any other poker website and it controls over 50% of the market.

The sale of PokerStars has now changed the game in the US market. It is a prerequisite for any online casino that operates with a US license to also have or be partners with an U.S. operated “land-based” casino; PokerStars partnered with Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, NJ.

PokerStars also made a massive deal with gigantic casino conglomerate Eldorado Resorts, which operates properties across 12 different states. The US government has to be pleased that PokerStars is playing ball and infusing the US market with plenty of cash.

When Will PokerStars Return to the USA?

PokerStars logo inside a clockPokerStars USA is operating an online poker and casino site in New Jersey as of March 21, 2016.  Preliminary negotiations to purchase the Atlantic Club in NJ failed, but a partnership with Resorts Casino Hotel was completed. It also has plans to launch a site in Pennsylvania in the near future.

The brand wasn’t forced into a file labelled, “bad actor” clause, mentioned in recent law which made it harder for poker sites that operated in the US during illegal times to re-enter, despite having paid over an estimated $850 million in fines publicly.  Not to mention what has transpired behind closed doors.

Good Faith Will Not Prevail?

Dollar bills inside an USA hatPokerStars did a very good deed in bailing out defunct poker room Full Tilt Poker after they amounted a nine figure debt in what the Department of Justice was calling a Ponzi Scheme.  Those who are in the poker business know there was no Ponzi scheme.  The main wrongdoing of Full Tilt Poker (well, minus all the lies) was messing with the United States which continually seized funds meant for players – until they could no longer sustain the losses and were forced to shut down or sell to PokerStars.

PokerStars was simply a better-run business and separated their player accounts from operating expenses. It was therefore an easy task for PokerStars to immediately pay back its players after they were forced out of the US market in 2011. PokerStars was also better at becoming a global poker business with much of its player traffic coming from outside the USA.

This act of good faith in which hundreds of millions were dealt back in the form of penalties and bailouts satisfied US officials. It was an example of responsible gaming. As more and more casinos based in the USA secure their licenses to operate, PokerStars will likely be entering several of these state-regulated markets.

When Will I Be Able to Play PokerStars in my State?

We have in-depth real money online poker guides for many of the US states that are updated whenever there are changes to state legislation. Unfortunately there’s no clear-cut guide to when online poker will be legalized in each US state. For now it appears that progress will only occur at the state level and a federal bill is just a pipe dream.

There are some states that have a higher chance of legalizing and regulated online poker in the near future, however. We keep close track on some of the more progressive states and try to give our readers some insight into which states could be closing in on legalization. You can take a deeper dive into your states specific laws in regards to PokerStars and all online poker laws with our state-by-state guides.

Online Poker USA Law State-by-State Guides

The Entire History of PokerStars in the USA

PokerStars has a fascinating history in the online poker industry with a substantial portion of it taking place in the USA.

Now a billion-dollar, publicly-traded company, PokerStars had rather humble beginnings. It began in the early 2000s as a Costa Rican company called Rational Enterprises that was majority owned by Israeli-Canadian Isai Scheinberg.

PokerStars was just one of many of the early real-money online poker operators including PartyPoker, Pacific Poker (Now 888poker) and Tropical Poker. PokerStars claim to fame came in 2003 when an accountant named Chris Moneymaker won the WSOP Main Event in Las Vegas after qualifying on the site. Moneymaker was the first player to win the Main Event after qualifying online and helped create the so-called “poker boom” of the early 2000s.

The poker boom was stifled early on when the US government passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 that led to publicly-traded companies like PartyPoker getting forced to leave the US market altogether.

UIGEA had the opposite effect on PokerStars. Because PokerStars was a privately-held company it remained in the US market and quickly took the reins as the most popular online poker site in the world.

The gravy train came to an end in 2011 when the Department of Justice seized the .com addresses of three online poker sites: PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute/UltimateBet.

The DOJ alleged that all three companies were violating federal bank fraud and money laundering laws by offering their services to US-based players. PokerStars quickly paid back its players as it prepared to leave the US market

That was it for PokerStars in the USA until 2016. Several states had been relaxing views on online poker and eventually, New Jersey became the first state to allow PokerStars back. Pennsylvania is set to follow suit in 2019 but for now PokerStars NJ is the only game in town.

Unfortunately, many other states remain a pipe dream and it will likely be decades before PokerStars is allowed to operate in the entirety of the USA. Fortunately there are alternatives for poker players in the USA hungry for action.


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