PokerStars Potential US Casino Operator?


PokerStars is not giving up easily on the US gambling market. Currently unable to accept US poker players online, PokerStars appears to be making a play to get back into what was the most lucrative gambling market in the world. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that they are in serious talks to purchase a struggling Atlantic City Casino for roughly $50 million.

It was only 4 months ago that PokerStars agreed to a $731 settlement with the US DOJ after being indicted on bank fraud, money laundering and illegal gambling charges back in April 2011 in what is infamously known as Black Friday. The reports indicates that they are in talks with investment firm Colony Capitals who own Atlantic Club Casino Hotel, formerly the Atlantic City Hilton. If the asking price of $50 million is accurate, that almost seems like petty cash to PokerStars after their massive settlement with the DOJ.

Why Buy a US Casino

If you haven’t kept up with the attempts at regulating gambling in the US, we don’t blame you. One wonders when the politicians will get their act together. But there does seem to be potential movement in the state of New Jersey with a bill that could legalize online gambling expected to be voted on by the end of 2012. Gov. Chris Christie is expected to approve the bill (he vetoed it last time around) although he has suggested that a referendum may be required to make it constitutionally valid.

If the bill does become law it will only be Atlantic City Casinos that will be legally able to hold such a license to offer online gambling. As such the deal to buy Atlantic Club Casino hotel is rumored to be dependent on the bill passing. If this all goes through, PokerStars will be in a fantastic position to lead legalized online gambling in the state of New Jersey as they already have a head start compared to the likes of Caesar’s.

There is also the question of would PokerStars be able to receive a license based on their checkered past. The founder Isia Scheinberg has yet to face the US judicial system after his indictment in 2011. The WSJ has indicated that Mr Scheinberg is no longer an owner and wouldn’t have to be on the application. They also go on to say that “representatives for (PokerStars) have discussed their interest with state gambling regulators and believe they have gotten an initial indication that the company and its executives could be licensed…A spokeswoman from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement wouldn’t comment on whether regulators have discussed the plan.”

This is a very creative and smart move by PokerStars who we expect will continue to dominate the world poker market and soon the regulated US poker market. Who knows, maybe they will expand into online casinos if that opportunity presents itself. We for one, would welcome such a company back to the US market with open arms.

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