The Pala Band of Mission Indians Partners with Borgata for Online Gambling in New Jersey
The Pala Band of Mission Indians launched an online gambling website for the New Jersey market on Wednesday. The California Indian tribe is partnering with Borgata on the site, which is called Pala Interactive.
In agreeing to the dead with Borgata, the Pala Band becomes the first tribal gaming operation to enter the US-facing online gambling industry.
First Tribal Casino in New Jersey’s Online Industry
The Pala Band of Mission Indians are thus the first Native American tribe to launch a real money gaming site in the United States. Foxwoods Casino and Mohegan Sun both have free-play gaming websites for promotional purposes (to collect player information), but no other tribal gaming entity has launched its own fully legal and licensed gaming portal in the USA.
The tribe still does not have full approval of its gaming license from the New Jersey Department of Gaming Enforcement, though the tribe expects to have full licensing by Monday. Therefore, Monday, November 24 should be the full launch of Pala Interactive.
Pala Casino and Spa
The Pala Band of Mission Indians operates the land-based Pala Casino and Spa in San Diego County, California. For some time, the tribal unit has wanted to have its own online casino. The tribe announced this week it would launch an online poker room in early 2015.
The tribe’s Internet casino will launch just a few days prior to the 1st anniversary of New Jersey’s official launch of licensed online gambling on November 25, 2013. When online gaming launched a year ago, Governor Chris Christie was predicting that the industry could net $1 billion in revenue each year. In the year since, New Jersey online casinos have collected just over $100 million. Giving license holders like Borgata Casino the ability to partner with multiple gaming companies provides a chance to expand the gaming revenues in the New Jersey market, though the full impact of the new launch will take some time to gauge.
Online Poker in California
Indian tribes in California are pushing for online poker in that state, but the tribes have not been able to agree on common policies for the California industry. The Morongo Band of Mission Indians and the Manuel Band of Mission Indians have partnered with PokerStars and are lobbying to have unfettered online gaming licensing for international poker sites like PokerStars and Full Tilt.
The Pechanga and several other of the richest and most pivotal tribes oppose the inclusion of PokerStars in the California market. These tribes claim PokerStars should be banned from online gambling, because it was a “bad actor” in the years after the UIGEA was passed. Proponents of PokerStars in California argue that banning companies is both unfair and bad for business. They also point out PokerStars is under new management, after Amaya Gaming bought the world’s largest poker room in August of 2014.
PokerStars Still Waiting Licensing Decision
PokerStars is still waiting to be allowed into the New Jersey online gaming market, though it was thought by many that the Isle of Man based company would have been allowed to launch a site by now. Several stories surfaced that Amaya Gaming would be able to work the system and have a PokerStars casino and poker site launched in New Jersey by October or November at the latest. Senator Ray Lesniak has accused Governor Chris Christie of sabotaging PokerStars’ efforts to get into the New Jersey market.
Borgata and Pala Interactive
Borgata is the best partner Pala Interactive could have. Borgata collects over 40% of the gaming revenue in Atlantic City each year. Borgata Online has been the most successful of Atlantic City’s Internet casino gambling operations. The Borgata has the biggest player database and is widely thought to have the best software package in the New Jersey gaming market, too.
Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods, the two big Connecticut tribal casinos, launched free play casinos sites last year. While such gaming does not bring in revenues, it does include tangential benefits. Signups increase the casinos’ player database, so the land-based casinos can market to the public. Also, if ever online gambling were made legal, then the websites could have “aged” and developed a certain following. This would allow Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun to compete immediately.
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