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PokerStars Cries Foul Over AGA Intervention

The American Gaming Association’s attempt to derail PokerStars’ acquisition of an Atlantic City casino has forced the world’s top poker site to fight back, sending a scathing 15-page letter to New Jersey gaming officials.

The letter informs both the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement and the Casino Control Commission that the AGA has no significant interest in the case and will not “add constructively to the case without causing undue delay or confusion.” PokerStars also argues that the AGA’s participation would be anti-competitive and would further be an offense to the citizens of New Jersey.

In support of its argument, the Rational Group, PokerStars’ parent company, cites the fact that PokerStars is “one of the world’s largest and most respected Internet gaming companies” that works intimately with regulators in many jurisdictions around the world. It has resolved the Black Friday case against it without admitting any guilt and plans to aid New Jersey’s economy by creating jobs as well as providing brand name recognition in its acquisition of the Atlantic Club Hotel Casino.

The letter asks New Jersey gaming regulators to determine PokerStars’ suitability without allowing participation by “trade associations whose members wish to eliminate competition for purely economic reasons.” The AGA’s involvement would be counterproductive to the entire process and would cause “administrative inefficiencies,” thereby setting a bad precedent regarding who determines whether a casino is suitable for licensing.

The Casino Control Commission has docketed the matter for Wednesday, March 13. It is hard to imagine PokerStars being denied the right to purchase the casino and obtain a gaming license. Despite virtually ignoring the UIGEA, which is partially the reason why ‘Stars now dominates the online poker marketplace, New Jersey is intent on rescuscitating its struggling Atlantic City casinos.

Following Gov. Chris Christie signing online gambling legislation last month, the Garden State’s 2014 budget is banking on a tremendous amount of tax dollars coming from Internet gaming. And what better way to do that than permit the online behemoth known as PokerStars to enter the mix?

The AGA claims that a license for PokerStars “would send a damaging message to the world of gaming, … that companies that engage in chronic lawbreaking are welcome in the licensed gaming business.” Such a message, the AGA reasons “could cripple the industry’s public image for many years.”

The industry’s public image has already been crippled by the events of Black Friday. As far as New Jersey is concerned, letting PokerStars in can do nothing but help. And since the Garden State did away with the bad actor clause before passage of the online gambling legislation, a safe bet would be to put your money on PokerStars acquiring the Atlantic Club Hotel Casino.



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Charles Rettmuller

Charles has been an avid poker player for a number of years, both live and online. He holds a degree in journalism and previously worked as a reporter for a Chicago-based newspaper. Charles joined the PokerUpdate team in early 2012 and writes daily news articles for the site.