When New Jersey online poker players tried to access the free-play iOS version of Full Tilt on Wednesday, they were surprisingly greeted with an announcement that the company has been licensed by New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE), giving it the ability to offer real money games on a regulated gaming platform.
The message, seen here, sent shockwaves through the poker community.
The news was first reported on PocketFives.com by "nchavy23," who said that the message appeared as soon as he logged in.
"When I clicked the link it took me to the iTunes store where a message said, 'not available in the US.' My guess is the administration at Full Tilt put this up prematurely but I think it's safe to [assume] that real money play on Full Tilt in NJ will be available very soon."
This prompted PocketFives writer and moderator Dennis "dlorican" Lopez to quickly tweet to his followers after seeing the same message on his mobile client.
Hmm, got this message when signing on @FullTiltPoker from my iPhone. Haven't tried the computer program yet. http://t.co/KLG6qCsWgmFollow @DLO_Rican
Unfortunately for New Jersey poker players, the message wasn't yet meant for public consumption and was believed to be for testing purposes only.
A few hours after Lopez's tweet, Eric Hollreiser, Head of Corporate Communications for Rational Group, an Amaya Gaming subsidiary which is responsible for both PokerStars and Full Tilt, let the public know that this message was an error they are investigating.
We're looking into the errant message re NJ license. It is an error and we are investigating.Follow @erichollreiser
Hollreiser followed this up with a full statement to PokerFuse.
"Full Tilt has identified and corrected the cause of an inadvertent message in its play money iOS app which incorrectly stated that Full Tilt was licensed and would soon be launching in New Jersey.
We have been developing a real-money mobile poker app that has been submitted to the NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement as part of the review process of our application to offer real money gaming under a NJ DGE license.
Unfortunately, a bug in an update to the Full Tilt play-money poker app inadvertently included a pop-up window alerting players in New Jersey that a licensed real money offering is available. As a result of the bug, a very small number of people were exposed to this pop-up before we resolved the issue.
This was only a message alert – at no time was a real-money app available. No-one had the ability to play real-money games, nor register for the ability to play real money games on Full Tilt.
The bug was identified and fixed within hours of being alerted to the issue.
To be clear, we continue to be in dialogue with State officials but have not been granted permission to participate in real money gaming in New Jersey at this time.
We apologize to the NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement and to any players who were inconvenienced by this mistake."
Are Full Tilt and PokerStars coming to New Jersey soon?
While the announcement about Full Tilt now being licensed in New Jersey wasn't accurate, it has led many to believe that Full Tilt and PokerStars could be coming to the Garden State in the near future.
Industry expert Chris Grove reported on OnlinePokerReport that this may not be the case. Grove stated, "A source close to the company with knowledge of their New Jersey plans indicated to me that a launch of Full Tilt in New Jersey is not happening anytime soon."
PocketFives co-owner Adam Small agreed with Grove stating, "The people I've talked to at Stars/Tilt/Amaya/whatever lately are saying things more like "not anytime soon," but I actually welcome that compared to the predictions they were giving me months ago that they'd be on at the start of NJ online poker in Nov. of 2013 or that they'd be on Oct. 1 of last year. At least now they're just resigned that no one knows and that anyone who throws a date out there is just blindly guessing."
This does not mean players in New Jersey shouldn't be at least slightly optimistic as New Jersey State Senator Ray Lesniak tweeted on Jan. 10 that he expects the NJDGE to issue licenses as soon as March 2015.
Stay tuned to PokerNews as more develops in the New Jersey online poker scene.