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Poker News | Gambling and the Law

PokerStars' Parent Company Appeals Atlantic Club Casino Ruling

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Rational Group, parent company of the world’s biggest online poker website (PokerStars), has filed an appeal of the ruling by the New Jersey Superior Court that ended the company's right to buy the Atlantic Club Casino in Atlantic City.

An advance of $11 million of the $15 million deal had already been paid toward the purchase price by the Rational Group. Noted by many that price is the lowest ever paid for a casino in New Jersey. Not noted by many is the fact that the Rational Group had more plans to help the casino, including improvements and remodeling and the company employee's retirement program.

But on May 17th a state Superior Court judge ruled that Atlantic Club could keep the $11 million that had already been paid and terminate the contract; the April 26th deadline for preliminary approval from state authorities for Rational Group to own a casino had passed.

Judge Raymond Batten made several errors according to the appeal; the Rational Group claimed that Batten misinterpreted a time limit for sealing the deal and effectively blocked New Jersey casino regulators from regulating their review of the sale.

The Rational Group's argument also says that Batten “improperly considered” testimony from Atlantic Club’s witnesses and relied on documents that had not been formally entered as evidence.

The Rational Group appeal is accompanied by a 34-page brief and argues that the 120-day deadline should have started from the day the company's application for state approval was complete and not from the date the sale was recorded.

Either party had the right to cancel the deal if state approval had not been obtained by April 26th according to the contract. But the approval to own and operate a casino wasn't completed by the company until early April.

The temporary restraining order that prevented Atlantic Club from seeking new buyers was ruled no longer valid and therefore void by Batten.

The legalization of online gambling brought the Rational Group into New Jersey with the interest in purchasing Atlantic Club. Online betting is expected to start on November 26th as Atlantic City casinos are set to offer slot machines and table games. Online gambling has been estimated to boost Atlantic City casinos' revenues anywhere from $200 million to $2 billion annually.

PokerStars agreed to pay $547 million to the U.S. Department of Justice and $184 million to poker players overseas in settling charges in a lawsuit that included money laundering, bank fraud, and illegal gambling. PokerStars admitted to no wrongdoing or guilt and is in good standing with both national and international governments.

Rational is also arguing that it saved Atlantic City from bankruptcy according to the filed documents.


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