Pala Interactive was ready to enter the New Jersey online poker market in the third quarter of this year. However, those plans are now being shelved largely because Pala believes PokerStars will soon be entering the market and they can’t compete with Stars right now.
Jim Ryan, the company’s CEO, explained to CalvinAyre.com that Pala’s already launched casino product figures to do quite well in New Jersey. But he seems to predict dominance for PokerStars once they are licensed in the Garden State. Furthermore, he just doesn’t see the liquidity being very attractive in New Jersey, which has 8.94 million residents and no compacts with other states.
So what will Pala do with their online poker room?
Rather than launching poker in a state where Pala Interactive has little brand recognition, Ryan believes that his company will be best served by developing the top poker product they can. More specifically, he wants to continue bettering the iPoker software with an eye on the California online poker market.
Given that the Pala Band of Mission Indians is located here, Ryan knows that they have better brand recognition in the Golden State. Of course, the liquidity will be far better in California too since they feature 38.8 million people. Assuming Pala can experience success here, then Ryan is certainly more interested in expanding into New Jersey later on.
But the problem with California is…
The obvious hurdle to performing well in California’s online poker market is, well, the lack of a market. Tribes, card rooms, racetracks and PokerStars continue to debate over the bad-actor clause and if racetracks will be allowed to participate.
Ryan, who was involved in the last legislative process, expressed more optimism that a bill could’ve passed last year; but unfortunately, time ran out on the process. This time around, though, he’s less optimistic that all sides can agree on a bill in 2015. But he also believes that the tribes want to see iPoker legalized sooner than later and the game will eventually be running in California.
Until then, it looks like Pala will continue focusing on their internet casino operation in New Jersey. Thanks in part to their association with the Borgata, Pala is already doing well in the Garden State. This being said, it looks like Pala will continue to be a force in the U.S. online gaming market for years to come.