Steve Ruddock PokerStars California when not if

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: It’s a matter of when not if [insert any online poker situation] happens.

The phrase “when not if” could wind up being the way we remember the post-Black Friday online poker world. There was:

  • The poker boom (2003-2007);
  • The UIGEA era (2007-2011);
  • Black Friday (2011);
  • And the “when not if” era (2012-2015?).

Since Black Friday, the poker world has gotten accustomed to hearing the when not if phrase, and for a long time it swirled around Full Tilt Poker. From the sale of Full Tilt Poker to the reimbursement of player funds from Full Tilt Poker, poker players are used to waiting an extremely long time for things to happen, and being placated with the “don’t worry, it’s a matter of when not if.”

More recently, the when not if motif has abandoned Full Tilt Poker and found a new home in the skies above the Isle of Man, at the headquarters of PokerStars – which just so happens to be owned by the parent company of Full Tilt Poker.

It’s a matter of when not if PokerStars will be licensed in New Jersey, and while not exclusive to PokerStars, we’re also being told it’s a matter of when not if California will pass an online poker bill.

We’re still waiting on New Jersey (any day now), and your guess is as good as mine when it comes to what’s going on in California, but PokerStars has crossed one thing off of its “when not if” list, the launch of its DFS site, which may impact when California passes an online poker bill.

“When not if”… PokerStars lands in New Jersey

Amaya Gaming has been patiently waiting for the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement to approve its online gaming license. Since Amaya purchased PokerStars in the summer of 2014, the entire online poker world has been saying it’s a matter of when not if PokerStars comes to New Jersey, and there have been several false alarms along the way.

Yet here we are, over a year after the fact, and coming up on the soft deadline Amaya Gaming CEO David Baazov set for the company’s New Jersey iGaming license earlier this year. Baazov has said, on multiple occasions, that he expected PokerStars to receive its New Jersey license sometime in Q3 of 2015, which runs through September 30.

NJ DGE Director David Rebuck recently spoke with Global Gaming Business Magazine’s Roger Gros, and he indicated the delay is simply a matter of due diligence, and not, as some have intimated (overtly and covertly), a political quid pro quo between Sheldon Adelson and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

“We’ve done 80 sworn interviews, we’ve traveled to half a dozen foreign countries,” Rebuck told Gros. “We’re going to do this in a very professional way which will be published to the world, because whatever decision we come down on will be scrutinized, and some will hate it and some will love it.”

“When not if”… California passes online poker

In addition to New Jersey, PokerStars would love to see California pass an online poker bill, which won’t be happening in 2015  or anytime soon, in a lot of people’s minds.

But PokerStars sees it differently, and the company is now making similar “when not if” statements when it comes to online poker coming to California.

“We see a lot of momentum and it’s really a question of when not if, and obviously we’re hoping that it’s sooner rather than later,” Eric Hollreiser, Amaya’s vice-president of corporate communications, told the Financial Post earlier this month.

What will be interesting to watch is Amaya’s entry into the DFS industry with its acquisition of Victiv, which has since been rebranded to StarsDraft. With StarsDraft active in California, it makes it very difficult for PokerStars’ opponents to continue to call the company a bad actor, unworthy of operating a business in California.

Steve Ruddock
Steve Ruddock - Steve is one of the most recognizable names in the online poker media space. He brings his deep knowledge and equally deep well of opinions to his coverage at