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PokerStars Loses Appeal to Purchase Atlantic Club

PokerStars was dealt another losing hand when the appellate court in New Jersey chose not to intervene in the matter, upholding a lower court judge’s decision that terminated the acquisition agreement between the parties.

This is likely not the final bullet that PokerStars will fire in the case, as the appellate judges considered only the interlocutory phase of the appeal. That leaves the broader appeal still open for consideration.

PokerStars remains miffed at having shelled out $11 million of the $15 million purchase price in $750,000 weekly installments, yet seemingly walked away empty-handed when the Atlantic Club owners caught a favorable river card via a clause in the contract that required PokerStars to secure casino licensing by April 26 or the agreement could be terminated.

The casino did just that, keeping the $11 million and also insisting that PokerStars cough up a $4 million termination fee as specified in the agreement. That’s another matter that will likely find its way before a judge before all is said and done.

The $15 million price for the struggling casino was negotiated in December, two months before New Jersey Governor Chris Christie approved online gambling in the state. With online poker and casino sites expected to launch in November, the Atlantic Club has gained substantial value since PokerStars first sought to rescue it.

That rescue was intended by PokerStars to be its seat at the online poker table in the U.S. But New Jersey court decisions of late have been instrumental in keeping the world’s top poker site from joining the game. Other states will also likely keep PokerStars from participating by way of bad actor clauses in their respective legislative efforts that penalize alleged violators of the UIGEA. PokerStars is one of those violators, despite its outstanding reputation throughout the rest of the world.

PokerStars continues to dominate the online poker market, posting player traffic numbers that dwarf the competition. But part of that success is attributable to servicing the U.S. market post-UIGEA, and many believe that the online poker site should somehow pay for its actions. That payback may be underway now, as New Jersey judges and online poker and gambling legislation approved or being considered in other states will likely keep PokerStars watching from the rail, at least for the time being.



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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.