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PokerStars not Welcomed by All in New Jersey

While PokerStars’ suitability to operate a poker site in New Jersey under the ownership of Amaya is likely welcomed by a large number of state officials who are hoping to see a boost in revenue as a result, the welcome mat has not been laid out by all New Jersey lawmakers.

Assemblyman Ralph R. Caputo recently posted an op-ed in that detailed his objections to PokerStars’ likely entry into New Jersey’s igaming market. Caputo held back no punches in tossing around phrases like “disgraced online gambling giant” with a “history of bad behavior” in reference to PokerStars.

Getting license too easy for PokerStars

Representing the 28th legislative district, Caputo also chairs the Tourism, Gaming and Arts Committee. He is quite perturbed that despite the shady past of PokerStars that includes a federal indictment of the site’s founder that has gone unanswered, a public hearing will not be held in advance of the likely favorable decision expected from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE).

PokerStars’ online gaming license, when granted, will be that of vendor. The vetting process to hold such a license is nowhere near as stringent as that of hopeful casino operators, who have quite a few more hoops to jump through to win approval. The reason for this, as pointed out by Caputo, is to keep “unsavory characters” out.

“Poker­Stars’ hands may be the dirtiest,” Caputo added, when taking into account all of the companies seeking to be part of the state’s igaming scheme. The Assemblyman finds fault with PokerStars attempting to clean its hands through its sale to Amaya, but insisted that the $4.9 billion transaction cannot “negate the company’s checkered history.”

Clean hands outside of U.S.

Though not in direct response to Caputo, PokerStars officials have repeatedly pointed out that no other company holds as many online poker licenses in jurisdictions throughout the world. That number is now near a dozen, which shows the strength, suitability, and perhaps respect that PokerStars has achieved on a global scale.

Except, of course, in the U.S., where it may take years to shed the bad actor status completely. While much of New Jersey has rolled out the red carpet for PokerStars as evidenced by previous comments made by the likes of Sen. Ray Lesniak and even DGE regulators, there are those such as Caputo who have yet to be swayed.

“New Jersey officials, through the DGE, owe it to the residents to fully vet Poker­Stars, taking into account its past as well as its present, and not rush to usher in a firm with a tainted past simply to bolster the faltering online gambling experiment,” Caputo said. Failing to do so “would be an insult to everyone who has gone under scrutiny to work or do business in the casino industry over the past 30 years.”



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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.