PokerStars, the world's leading online poker room, isn't giving up in its pursuit of obtaining a license in New Jersey and the possibility of working with other U.S. states that have already legalized internet gambling (Nevada and Delaware) and those that have yet to come on board in the next big move in gaming. PokerStars' Head of Corporate Communications Eric Hollreiser talked about the company's continuing effort in a year-end blog post.
"PokerStars will continue to pursue our goals and remain confident that we will have a strong presence and positive economic impact in the American market in 2014, whether that is in New Jersey or another state seeking the benefits of being home to a world-class online gaming company," Hollreiser wrote.
The Atlantic Club Casino Hotel shutting down — recently sold at a bankruptcy auction to Caesars Entertainment and Tropicana — was also part of Hollreiser's blog post. In January 2013 PokerStars' parent company (The Rational Group) had worked out a deal to purchase the Atlantic Club for $15 million but the casino decided to choose a different path after the Rational Group made $11 million in payments as part of the deal.
According to Hollreiser the closure of the casino could have been avoided.
"It's always sad when hard-working people lose their jobs, especially during the holiday season," he wrote. "This is particularly sad, though, because it simply didn't have to happen. At this time last year, PokerStars reached an agreement that would secure a new future for the casino, save the jobs of 1,800 employees and inject new blood, new technology and new finances into the Atlantic City casino economy."
"Now, the Atlantic Club will be stripped for parts and its employees will be put out onto the boardwalk in search of new jobs in 2014."
Resorts Casino Hotel and PokerStars formed a partnership in Atlantic City after the Atlantic Club pulled out of the deal with PokerStars. The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) put the possibility of that partnership in a holding pattern when it delayed PokerStars’ Internet gaming license application for up to two years.
The main reason for the suspension according to the DGE is PokerStars founder Isai Scheinberg. Scheinberg is still under U.S. federal indictment for allegedly violating the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act and Illegal Gambling Business Act.
PokerStars continues to sees New Jersey as a big part of the company's plans.
"We continue to share the vision that online gaming will be a boon for New Jersey," says Hollreiser. "Unfortunately, PokerStars is no longer in a position to help the Atlantic Club employees and the local economy in general. The continued delays in our regulatory review prevent us from entering the market at this time and bringing the marketing and operational investment we have planned for the past year. Those investments included establishing a U.S. office in NJ which would employ 250-300 people in the first two years and launching extensive marketing programs to energize our loyal customer base in the area and grow the online gaming market in the state.
"We've delivered on similar commitments in newly licensed markets around the world and these investments and management practices established us as an industry leader and we've been recognized as a Great Place to Work in 2012 and 2013."