Pala Interactive, which operates Pala Online Casino and Pala Bingo in New Jersey, today announced the launch of Pala Poker, the fourth poker network in the Garden State. With the launch, Pala Poker becomes the first new online poker site in New Jersey since the debut of PokerStars in 2016.
Pala Interactive is partnered with Borgata in Atlantic City to offer its growing suite of New Jersey online gaming offerings. Borgata was second in total online gaming revenue in the state in April raking in a total of $4,213,109.
The site will join current New Jersey poker leader PokerStars, along with Borgata Poker and the All-American Poker Network (featuring 888 Poker and WSOP) as a fourth option for consumers of online poker in the state.
“We are excited to get our poker product launched as we have spent the last three years building a new poker platform in preparation for state based online gaming regulation in the U.S.,” said Pala CEO Jim Ryan in a press release.
Pala’s poker software will leverage “cutting-edge cloud-based technology,” giving it the capability to scale and grow no matter how many players use the product simultaneously. The company also boasts of an advanced fraud detection system which will work to root out cheaters and keep the games fair.
“Pala Interactive has worked with the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement to ensure the Pala Poker product has the very best standards for regulation, safety and security for players,” the company added.
Poker players can enjoy Pala Poker on both desktop and iOS/android mobile devices, and access over 250 table games and slots on PalaCasino.com.
To celebrate the launch, Pala Poker is offering the largest free money and sign-up bonus of any New Jersey online poker site. All Pala players will receive a $50 no deposit bonus along with an additional 100% match bonus of up to $500 on their first deposit.
Of the $50 in the welcome package, $15 is eligible for poker play – $10 for tournaments and $5 for ring games. $20 of the remaining free money is for casino games, and $15 is for bingo.
Some view Pala’s New Jersey launch as a testing ground for its homegrown poker software, where it can be improved and readied to be deployed in states with bigger markets, like California and New York, should the industry become legal there.
Indeed, the potential exists for Pala to become a much more pervasive player in the US online poker industry should other states follow the lead of New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware in regulating iGaming. “We are excited to provide another option to those in the market for a poker platform and look forward to discussions with new B2B partners,” added Ryan in the release.
Little Fish in a Small Pond
As a fully standalone site leveraging untested proprietary software, Pala Poker will be fighting an uphill battle in the NJ market. Two poker rooms, Ultimate Poker and Betfair’s defunct offering, have already become casualties due to the increased competition for the a slice of a relatively small pie.
Although Borgata is partnered with Pala Interactive, the Atlantic City casino runs its own poker site, which shares player pools with Party Poker. In the early days of New Jersey online gambling, the Party/Borgata network dominated the landscape. But by 2015, WSOP/888 made up ground and was effectively splitting the market 50-50 with its competitor.
The whole dynamic changed when PokerStars launched its highly anticipated site in March 2016. The new kid on the block further eroded Party/Borgata’s market share and has since rose to become the market leader in NJ, with WSOP/888 close on its heels. As it stands now, Party/Borgata is in decline, and some fear that it could be the next poker casualty in the state.
The arrival of Pala Poker will split the already small online poker market even further, and could accelerate the decline of Party/Borgata and drag even more players away from PokerStars and WSOP/888.
Without a large marketing push, it’s difficult to see how Pala Poker could compete with its establish competitors, especially in terms of software and user experience. 888 has had decades to refine its product, while many view PokerStars’ poker software as the best in existence. Pala will have a long way to go to upgrade its software and put it in the same class as PokerStars, or even 888.
A Standout Executive Team
Pala Interactive boasts an accomplished executive team with extensive experience in the online gaming space, including CEO Jim Ryan whose prior job was co-CEO of bwin.party. Ryan joined the company in 2013.
COO Michael O’Malley is another former Party Gaming executive. O’Malley started out on the poker side during the early 2000’s, when he oversaw Party Poker’s rise to become the biggest poker site in the world. He would eventually take on a number of managerial roles for their casino, poker and sports betting products.
CMO Jeremy Clemons was one of the main executives behind the rise of Twin Spires, the largest online horse betting site in the United States and a product of Churchill Downs Incorporated. He left CDI in 2014 to join Pala.