PokerStars announced earlier this year that it plans to buy the Atlantic Club casino in New Jersey as part of a plan to reenter the US poker market. However, the American Gaming Association has made an unprecedented intervention in the purchase procedure by demanding New Jersey lawmakers reject the online poker site’s purchase bid.
The passage of New Jersey’s online gambling law will allow operators within Atlantic City to service the newly legalized internet betting market. PokerStars was removed from the US market by the Black Friday scandal in 2011, but plan to use ownership of an Atlantic City casino to reenter the online poker market. Prior to the Black Friday scandal, online poker was very popular in the US where players contributed handsomely to the global $7 billion online poker industry. PokerStars is the world’s largest online poker site, and was one of the main companies to benefit from US players.
New Jersey’s new law, as well as amendments in Nevada’s online poker laws, allows players in these two states to play on regulated sites operating in the US. If PokerStars completes its purchase of the Atlantic Club casino and establishes its online site in New Jersey, players in Nevada are welcome to use the site as well. PokerStars spokesperson Eric Hollreiser believes other states will draft their own online gambling legislation as US demand for online poker grows over time.
However, the American Gaming Association has asked New Jersey lawmakers to reject the bid. The AGA wrote to New Jersey regulators that there are still PokerStars fugitives – including founder Isai Scheinberg – under investigation for the Black Friday scandal, and allowing the site to reenter the market sends the wrong message.
“Allowing PokerStars to be licensed would send a damaging message to the world of gaming and to the world beyond gaming, that companies that engage in chronic lawbreaking are welcome in the licensed gaming business.”
New Jersey has agreed to review the AGA complaint, and will hold a hearing no later than March 15.