According to a recent report by The Wall Street Journal PokerStars parent company Rational Group is in late stage negotiations to purchase The Atlantic Club Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, NJ. PokerStars just four months ago settled with the US Department of Justice for $731,000,000. If PokerStars is able to purchase The Atlantic Club Casino the move is designed to give PokerStars the upper hand in there hope of receiving an online gambling license once the state of New Jersey legalizes it.
As part of the US DOJ settlement the federal government stated there is nothing that would preclude PokerStars from re-entering the US market once there is a legal framework in place. As part of that deal PokerStars also received the assets of the 2nd largest poker site at the time in the US market Full Tilt Poker. PokerStars attorney Jeff Ifrah stated “Those provisions clearly permit PokerStars to offer real-money play under a licensed regulatory scheme provided by a state and participate in New Jersey.”
The Atlantic Club Casino is currently owned by an investment firm Colony Capital and the current price being negotiated is less than $50,000,000. The casino has changed hands several times over the years and has struggled financially. According to the report by the WSJ the deal is still several weeks away and would not be completed until NJ Bill A2578 is signed into law. New Jersey State Senator Raymond Lesniak believes that the bill should be voted on by the full assembly by December 17th with the Senate voting by around December 20th of this year. It would then be on the desk of Governor Chris Christie soon after and New Jersey could see legalized poker by 2013.
Governor Christie vetoed a similar bill in 2011 at the 11th hour. He has indicted to several interested parties that he is very open to signing this version as it has the protections he was looking for.
If PokerStars is able to buy the Atlantic Club Casino and if Governor Christie signs into law Bill A2578, PokerStars would still have an uphill battle to obtain a license to operate. However if they are successful on all fronts then look for PokerStars to be the go to site for online poker within New Jersey. Players would see the resurrection of PokerStars & Full Tilt Poker within New Jersey and in our view no other casino would be able to compete against them.