PokerStars is in advanced talks to purchase the Atlantic Club Casino in New Jersey, the Wall Street Journal has reported. If completed, the deal could allow the operator to obtain an online gambling license in the state.
Recent adjustments to New Jersey’s Assembly Bill A2578 include changes that open the door to the return of PokerStars and Full Tilt.
The latest draft of the bill places suitability decisions in the hands of the state’s Division of Gaming Enforcement and the U.S. Department of Justice. Sources close to PokerStars think the company will make a “strong case for licensure,” though the deal faces significant legal and regulatory hurdles.
Similar “bad actor” and “penalty box” provisions have caused controversy recently. Last month, former U.S. solicitor general Paul Clement argued that the Reid-Kyl bill‘s plan to penalize offshore operators that served the U.S. after the passage of the UIGEA in 2006 “raises serious due process concerns.”
If licensed, PokerStars will offer online poker in a regulated state market. The operator also plans to roll out poker tournaments in a branded room in the Atlantic Club Casino.
“The company’s prospects in populous New Jersey will hinge on whether companion Internet gambling bills pending in the Assembly and Senate pass muster with lawmakers and Republican Governor Chris Christie,” said GamblingCompliance’s Chris Krafcik.
Analysts expect both houses of the state legislature to vote on that bill before the year’s end.
The Atlantic Club is currently owned by investment firm Colony Capital, who bought the casino from Hilton Hotels in 2004. It originally opened in 1980 as the Golden Nugget and was owned by gambling tycoon Steve Wynn.
The Atlantic Club lost $13.6 million during the first three quarters of 2012, and may be sold for as little as $50 million.
In October, PokerStars announced an equity stake in London’s Hippodrome Casino.