PokerStars purchase of Atlantic City casino delayed

Atlantic City Club Casino Hotel, NJ

PokerStars must wait until at least the summer before it is given the green light on their planned acquisition of the Atlantic City Club Casino Hotel. The Rational Group, PokerStars' parent company, has not fully completed its Interim Casino Authorization petition which must be submitted to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE), according to a NorthJersey.com report.

The DGE would then have a 90-day window to process the petition, before a final recommendation is made to the Casino Control Commission. The Commission would then have a 30-day window of its own before approving or denying PokerStars bid to purchase the AC Club Casino Hotel.

It is not publicly known exactly how much PokerStars is willing to fork over to purchase of Atlantic City's 12th ranked casino in gross gaming revenue for 2012, though a report by John Brennan at NorthJersey.com indicates that it is even less than the $20 to $50 million range that has been speculated. SBR interviewed Brennan on the prospect of Atlantic City sportsbooks last year.

Sportsbook Review.com reported on March 6th that the American Gaming Association (AGA) filed a brief with the DGE blasting PokerStars for operating as a "criminal enterprise" and as a business that engaged in deceit, chicanery, and the systematic flouting of US law. The AGA, which acts as a mouthpiece for US casinos, was referring to PokerStars' continuing to accept US players following the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006.

These are matters for expert regulators to determine, not self-interested partisans interested in picking a public fight. Eric Hollreiser, PokerStars' spokesmanPokerStars quickly countered the AGA's attack through spokesman Eric Hollreiser. "These are matters for expert regulators to determine, not self-interested partisans picking a public fight. PokerStars is one of the largest and most respected internet gaming companies because we work closely with regulators and are in good standing with governments around the world," stated Hollreiser.

It is not hard to understand why existing Atlantic City casinos aren't in love with the idea of PokerStars establishing a foothold in their backyard. PokerStars is the world's largest internet poker room and is looking to capitalize on New Jersey's internet gambling bill recently signed into law by Gov. Christie. Other casinos, such as Caesars Entertainment, who PokerStars allegedly rebuffed on a business dealing early this year, would likely not be competitive with the sophisticated poker giant.

While PokerStars may not be thrilled that they've met resistance so far in New Jersey, it will still be a few more months before internet gambling is facilitated in Atlantic City. PokerStars has likely accepted by now that they'll be cutting through red tape until the close of 2013.

As part of the PokerStars settlement with the US Department of Justice in the infamous Black Friday case, PokerStars agreed to pay $547 million to the US Government over a three year period for their role in serving US customers and violations of the UIGEA. PokerStars admitted no wrongdoing in the deal and also acquired former competitor Full Tilt Poker for $731 million. The agreement required PokerStars to immediately pay the $184 million owed to Full Tilt's non-US player base.

Sportsbook Review.com provides commentary on this in Friday's SBR iGaming News video update.

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