A month after resurrecting Full Tilt poker amidst several Herculean barriers, PokerStars is in the news again. News is surfacing that the online poker giant is in acquisition talks with the Atlantic Club casino. And just like that, PokerStars could be back in the United States.
“Twenty months ago, PokerStars, the biggest online poker company in the world, essentially got kicked out of America. The U.S. government sued the company for operating an illegal gambling business, shut down its U.S.-facing web site, and indicted PokerStars’ founder. The company’s bitter competitors were elated and the publicly-traded stocks of some of them soared in the immediate aftermath. The rich online poker market in America effectively ended.”
Yet just because the online poker market is in the weeds doesn’t mean US soil isn’t rich with other opportunities. The Isle of Man-based company is reportedly on the verge of striking a deal with the Colony Capital LLC investment firm, owners of the struggling Atlantic Club. According to one of the sources of the Wall Street Journal, the negotiated purchase price could be less than $50 million.
The deal is anything but done, however. Even if the two parties agree on a price and assets, the deal would still need to be approved by the New Jersey gaming regulators, who may be influenced by PokerStars’ competitors who will undoubtedly fight the effort.
There, of course, is more to the story.
An article by iGaming writes, “PokerStars’ acquisition of Atlantic Club Casino would appear to be a move to give the company a foothold in any future intra-state online poker market in New Jersey, with applicants for online casino licences likely to require a land-based presence.” The “online lifeline” is one that NJ Senator Raymond Lesniak has long believed in. An intrastate casino market means making jobs and saving jobs, bringing more people and money into the state.
Whether or not the PokerStars proposed investment will pay off will depend on whether or not Governor Chris Christie approves the measure, and he’s already vetoed it once before in 2011. “The distinction between now and when the Governor vetoed the previous bill is that this time, the casino industry is strongly behind it,” Lesniak told iGaming Business. “They realised that federal legislation just isn’t going to happen and that getting started in New Jersey will be beneficial to their land-based operations.”