June 18th, 2013 by Josh
The thought of playing at a Pokerstars Casino seems odd. A Pokerstars Casino for U.S. players in 2013 seems even weirder. I wonder if they would use a different name if their legal battle is successful. Poker Stars Casino just doesn’t sound right. Maybe Casino Stars or Stars Casino but the former is already in use. I’m not talking about an online Pokerstars Casino, or not exactly anyway. Pokerstars and Rational Group are currently in court regarding the purchase of an New Jersey casino: Atlantic Club Casino. I won’t bore you with the details but Pokerstars had an agreement to buy the Atlantic Club casino. This AC casino has had financial troubles for years and the deal with Poker Stars was initially approved by all. The casino apparently decided to go with another buyer and Pokerstars successfully blocked the sale. Later on a New Jersey judge lifted the block on the sale but on Thursday Pokerstars filed a motion to put the restraining order – the blocking mechanism – back into place.
If the sale ends up going through Pokerstars will own a U.S. casino. It is a brick and mortar casino so Americans won’t be playing Blackjack with Daniel Negreanu online anytime soon but NJ is one of the states pushing for legal online gambling. I believe that the New Jersey online gambling bills specify that any current form of gambling found in their brick and mortar casinos would be legal online. This means that both real money poker and casino gambling would be legal online within the state. This is why Pokerstars wants to own this casino so much. It would be the perfect stepping stone into the legal poker and casino market in the USA.
Pokerstars cannot simply buy land and build a casino in New Jersey or any other state. There are laws regarding how many casinos can operate in most states. My home state of Illinois is hoping for a gambling expansion that would see several new live casinos but they have been trying this for years. My point is that a legal Pokerstars Casino in the USA will need to be created out of an existing casino. If you check your local paper you will not find many B&M casinos for sale. The Atlantic Club casino represents the fastest and surest way for Pokerstars to get a firm foothold in the USA in 2013. If online poker and casino gambling is regulated on the federal level they will be in a good position but it looks like the USA is going to legalize Internet gambling piecemeal, state by state. Ultimate Poker is the official online poker room for citizens of Nevada. They were the first and currently the only legal USA poker room online thus far in 2013.
With an online gambling boom on the h0rizon in the USA many companies want some real-estate and the Atlantic Club is a hot piece of property. Pokerstars and the Rational Group have legions of lawyers and great financial power but they are competing with even greater powers like Sheldon Adelson, a casino magnate and billionaire 20X over. It isn’t Adelson’s bankroll that makes him so powerful, it is his connections both in the US and Israel. It has been said that Adelson is opposing Pokerstars on the AC casino purchase. Sheldon Adelson has been buying U.S. lawmakers for many years, Pokerstars has not. It is as simple as that. Pokerstars/Rational has their roots in Israel, where Sheldon is from, so perhaps there is only room for one gambling mogul in the Promised Land.
Pokerstars could probably add a casino to their poker room right now in most European countries. That really doesn’t interest me because I’m from the USA. A U.S. Pokerstars Casino in 2013 may be possible but it doesn’t look good. Perhaps in 2014.
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