Back in New Jersey & More States to Come in 2020?
Updated Jan. 21, 2019 – PokerStars has not only launched in Pennsylvania but it’s currently boasts the highest traffic of all the regulated online poker sites in America. It took years of delays and half-starts but PokerStars USA is officially open for business in Pennsylvania and it appears that it was worth the wait for poker players in the area. It remains to be seen whether the success in PA will lead more US states to consider legalizing and regulating online poker.
Earlier this year, West Virginia also passed legislation that officially legalized online poker, but it’s expected to take until 2021 at the earliest for West Virginia online poker sites to launch.
PokerStars gained approval to operate in New Jersey in the fall of 2015, and New Jersey only. Their site, pokerstarsnj.com, went live on March 21, 2016, but only 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. Below are online poker rooms available for other US states:
We recommend Ignition Poker as the best alternative, and it’s preferred by many to state-run sites for those not located within New Jersey borders. Some of the other sites that rank highly 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?
Real money online poker play on PokerStars is currently only available if you are visiting or living within New Jersey or Pennsylvania. PokerStars will be in more USA states in the near future, with West Virginia and Michigan the current front-runners to join the party.
PokerStars, also owner of Full Tilt Poker, 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’. Players are still choosing to play at safe offshore poker sites such as Ignition Poker and BetOnline, due to 50-state acceptance. PokerStars is partnered with Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, and their main competition in the state is WSOP/888 and Borgata/PartyPoker.
Meanwhile legal online poker is available in Delaware and Nevada, but PokerStars has yet to acquire a license in either state. Online poker legislation in big markets like New York and California has been considered, but never passed. It appears PokerStars is years away from offering games in those states.
If you do not live in either Nevada or Pennsylvania, we highly recommend Ignition Poker or Betonline.ag which are safe and trusted sites that service all 50 USA states. On the real money poker sites reviews page, we provide a comprehensive look at how each online poker site has been ranked and what factors have been considered most important when reviewing online poker rooms.
Make no mistake, online poker is definitely legal in the USA. It’s 100% legal for you to play, so you don’t have to worry about getting arrested.
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 a U.S. operated “land-based” casino. PokerStars partnered with Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, NJ. Unfortunately, PokerStars has struggled with its NJ-based traffic. On the bright side Pennsylvania has been a traffic bonanza for PokerStars since it launched in late 2019.
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 USA is currently operating in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The brand would like to expand to other states but the rollout of regulated online poker across America has been painfully slow. PokerStars also has one extra obstacle to overcome as several important gaming groups in the USA see the brand as a bad actor, thanks to the fact it operated without a license in the USA for years.
The brand remains immensely popular amongst players in the USA but it has paid over an estimated $850 million in fines over the years thanks to its previous activity in America.
Good Faith Will Not Prevail?
While some US states have been reluctant to allow PokerStars back, it should be noted that the company bailed out tens of thousands of American poker players by purchasing the embattled Full Tilt Poker after the events of Black Friday. Full Tilt famously didn’t have funds on hand to repay its players.
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 online poker bill is still 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
You can refer to the legal status of online poker in every US state here:
Alabama – Arizona – Arkansas – California – Colorado – Connecticut – Georgia – Idaho – Iowa – Kansas – Maine – Maryland – Massachusetts – Michigan – Minnesota – Mississippi – Montana – Nebraska – New Hampshire – New Mexico – North Carolina – North Dakota – Ohio – Oklahoma – Pennsylvania – Rhode Island – South Carolina – Tennessee – Vermont – West Virginia – Wyoming
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.
2003 – 2006
- PokerStars claim to fame came in 2003 when an accountant named Chris Moneymaker won the WSOP Main Event 2003-2006 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.
- PokerStars quickly became a favorite amongst poker players for its secure deposits, reliable support team and booming cash games.
2006 – 2011
- 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.
2011 – 2016
- 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.
- Online poker players referred to the day as “Black Friday”. It would be years before PokerStars would be allowed to re-enter the US market.
2016 – Today
- PokerStars continued to flourish on the international market and was purchased by Amaya Gaming in a massive $4.9 billion deal in 2014. Subsequently the first officially licensed online poker sites in the USA start to pop up in 2014.
- New Jersey became the first state to allow PokerStars back in 2016.
- In late 2019 Pennsylvania follows suit and allows PokerStars to officially open its doors to players in the state.
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.