Resorts Casino Hotel and The Rational Group, operator of PokerStars, the world’s largest online poker site, have come to an agreement to provide online poker to the residents of New Jersey, the companies announced today. The agreement links the first casino to open in Atlantic City with the biggest online poker company in the world. “This is another blue chip partner for Resorts to complete a wonderful series of brands – Mohegan Sun, Margaritaville and now PokerStars,” said Morris Bailey, Resorts’ Company Chairman.
“Resorts is a fantastic partner for us and we are looking forward to launch PokerStars in the U.S. in association with the other quality brands Resorts has brought to Atlantic City,” said Mark Scheinberg, CEO of The Rational Group. “We are very happy to invest in New Jersey and we are excited about building a successful relationship with Resorts.” The agreement is pending approval by the New Jersey regulatory authorities.
Many online poker players have been hitting the poker forums and expressing their desire to now move to New Jersey. No word yet on whether Full Tilt Poker which is also owned and operated by The Rational Group will also be opening up to NJ poker players.
New Jersey is one of the few states where online poker is legal and Poker Stars, like many of its competitors, is trying to plant roots in the Garden State just as it is in every other legal online poker state in the U.S.. The only problem is, new rules set out by the New Jersey Gaming Enforcement Commission are going to make it hard for PokerStars to follow through on that wish, while many of those competitors have already had their wishes granted. To explain:
Any land-based casino already operating in Atlantic City, NJ has until June 30th, 2013 to apply for a license to operate an intrastate online casino. Right now all the land-based casinos in Atlantic City are owned by three parent companies: Boyd Gaming, Caesar’s Entertainment, and Borgata. The June 30th deadline also applies to any online gaming partners of those casinos, which includes 888 Holdings and Bwin.Party. It notably does not include Poker Stars, which has been struggling to purchase the Atlantic Club in Atlantic City in the hopes that that will give it a foot in the door, so to speak, and the advantage of the June 30th deadline. Without such a scheme, Poker Stars is beholden to the deadline set for offshore enterprises and out of state enterprises (including would-be online casino partners with no partnerships, a la PokerStars) of June 29th. This gives PokerStars a double disadvantage in the struggle to stake a claim in the New Jersey online gambling game as it has to have its act together a whole day sooner and it has no land-based partner to walk in on the heels of.
It looks as though online poker giant Poker Stars is looking to branch out into land-based poker as well, with the revelation made in The Wall Street Journal last Thursday, December 6, 2012 that the site recently lauded for buying out beleagured former rival Full Tilt Poker and bailing out its debt with players worldwide is now about to make another big purchase in the form of a brick and mortar casino in none other than Atlantic City, New Jersey.
The state of New Jersey has been in the headlines a great deal, of late, with its nearly successful attempts at landmark passage of legal intrastate online poker. It’s widely viewed now that the success of one of these attempts is imminent.
So which Atlantic City casino is Poker Stars in the process of negotiating a deal to buy? How about the Atlantic City Hilton, aka The Atlantic Club Hotel-Casino, formerly known as the Golden Nugget. The estimated cost? Only $50 million. The sellers? Colony Capital.
In its deal with the DOJ, Poker Stars has agreed to pay $731 million to the U.S. government to settle a 9-count federal indictment. New Jersey’s gaming licensing regulations are notoriously strict. So it remains unclear whether Poker Stars’ recent settlement with the United States Department of Justice regarding the Black Friday seizures of April 2011 would affect the company’s ability to secure a gaming license from the state of New Jersey to operate that casino.