PokerStars Wants to Give Former NJ Customers Their Money

On Thursday, PokerStars began getting in touch with former customers in New Jersey who still have outstanding balances, urging them to finally retrieve their funds. The notifications come in advance of PokerStars’ return to the U.S. market, as it attempts to make good on the requirements the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) has laid out.

New JerseyA month ago, the DGE finally gave its long-awaited approval for Amaya Gaming’s brands PokerStars and Full Tilt to operate in New Jersey. PokerStars had been trying to get into the New Jersey market since before online gambling became legalized and regulated in the state; ever since the regulated market went live, PokerStars has been trying to obtain an internet gaming license. Once the PokerStars brands (including Full Tilt) were sold to Amaya Gaming last summer, it looked like Stars would finally get that license, as it appeared that the one thing holding it up was the presence of Isai and Mark Scheinberg, the former owners of PokerStars. With new ownership, it looked like all was clear, but for whatever reasons, PokerStars kept finding its license application delayed.

In mid-October, the DGE published its 89-page investigation report on Amaya which included, among many other things (it was 89 pages, after all) the requirements that had to be met before the Transactional Waiver Order (basically a probationary license) was issued. One of those requirements was that Amaya had to hand over any funds it still had from former New Jersey players to the state.

And thus, Thursday’s e-mail to said players. A member of PocketFives’ New Jersey poker community posted the e-mail he received, which begins as follows:

We first informed you in April 2011 that you have an account with PokerStars with the balance above and how to obtain the funds. To date you have not claimed the funds. As we recently have received approval in New Jersey and anticipate beginning to offer real-money online gaming soon, we wanted to provide you with the opportunity to obtain the funds.

The communication continues, explaining that the player can still contact PokerStars to receive the funds by either writing to them via regular mail, e-mailing [email protected], or by simply logging into their long-lost PokerStars account to request a cashout.

PokerStars says that according to New Jersey’s Uniform Unclaimed Property Act, the company is “required to make a diligent attempt to renew contact.” After that, if PokerStars still can’t get a hold of the customer, it is required to transfer the funds to the state. Even at that point, though, the money isn’t gone – if the player ever decides they want to recover the money, they can claim the funds from the state with interest.

PokerStars says it must send the funds to the state if it can’t make contact with customers by December 28th.

Some players have minuscule balances with PokerStars, which is likely why they never bothered to retrieve them. One poster on PocketFives received an e-mail from Stars saying that the amount in his account (four cents) is less than the cost to process the return, so he is being encouraged to donate it to the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey charity.

In a mildly interesting twist, that player did, in fact, donate the pennies, upon which a PokerStars representative thanked him, saying, “We appreciate your gesture and invite you to continue being a part of PokerStars once we launch our real-money games in your state again on January 1st, 2016. We will alert you as soon as we have more information, and until then, you’re welcome to practice on our free-to-play site PokerStars.NET.”

A different PokerStars rep chimed in on PocketFives saying that the information that customer was given was incorrect and that when a specific launch date is determined, it will be announced publicly, rather than simply in an e-mail to a player. Naturally, of course, based on the December 28th deadline given in the e-mail, PokerStars won’t be launching until 2016. It would not be unrealistic to think, though, that it could go live very close to the beginning of year.

Currently, the New Jersey online poker market is dominated by two networks: the Party Borgata Network and 888/WSOP.com. The latter leads, according to PokerScout.com, with a seven-day average of 160 cash game players, while the former has 130. While neither might not be exactly giddy over the prospect of PokerStars coming in and grabbing some of the customers, the hope is that PokerStars will increase interest and awareness in online poker/gambling in New Jersey, expanding the market and attracting more players for all sites.

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