With the possibility of a regulated online poker market still up in the air in California, a local tribe has traversed the virtual countryside by launching a brand new online casino in New Jersey, Pala Casino. The Pala Band of Mission Indians launched PalaCasino.com after partnering with The Borgata in Atlantic City, and says an online poker venue is on the horizon.
Pala Casino received approval from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement to launch the new Pala Casino dot-com, which went live late last week weekend in the Garden State. This marks the first time a real money, tribal owned online casino has launched under the authorized regulation of a US state, albeit located outside of the tribe’s home jurisdiction.
The Pala Band has been working diligently to increase the revenue at its Pala Casino Resort and Spa, situated on the Pala Indian Reservation just outside of San Diego, California. With 2,000 slot machines, nearly 100 table games and an assortment of 10 inviting restaurants, the 500-guest room facility is now in great shape, leaving the tribe with nothing more to do than wait on California legislators. The tribe has been anticipating the launch of regulated online poker in the Golden State, going so far as to contract American poker pro Phil Ivey as its brand ambassador last year, but the tribe had apparently grown weary of playing the waiting game.
“We will operate only in New Jersey and that means the product will change and improve over time; the player journey, issues related to geolocation, the gamification of the sign up process so that it is more engaging for the player,” said Jim Ryan, CEO of Pala Interactive, which operates the new Pala Casino website. “All this attention to detail will mean that the 90 plus games that we will be offering will be the best they can be for our customers.”
The tribe announced long ago that they intended to enter the online casino industry, but considering the landscape of iGaming in California, it makes sense that they would choose a more fertile ground for their operations. New Jersey has by far the highest population of the three states that have authorized online poker and/or casino gambling, and despite suspected market saturation, Pala feels thy will be able to gain a strong enough foothold in the Garden State.
“We had a solid weekend and we have yet to start marketing,” Ryan explained the tribe’s enthusiasm for the Pala Casino website. “We believe we are breaking into the New Jersey market at the perfect time.” The extension of the product to include an online poker room is expected to occur as early as the first quarter of 2015.
As for Phil Ivey’s former sponsorship deal with Pala, that has likely dissolved considering the current circumstances. Ivey’s relationship with The Borgata isn’t the best right now. He is currently in the middle of a lawsuit, filed by the Atlantic City casino, in which he is accused of cheating the Borgata out of $9.6 million by exploiting a defect in the cards at the Baccarat tables.