Fireworks continue in battle for online poker in NJ

Posted by Steve Ruddock on Mar 12, 2013 Posted in Legal Poker News, US Poker News | No Comments »

why-new-jersey-2Now that PokerStars no longer has Full Tilt Poker to battle against –considering PokerStars now unofficially owns Full Tilt Poker via their parent company The Rational Group—the world’s #1 online poker site now needs another antagonist, and it appears they found one with the American Gaming Association (AGA); a story we first brought to you last week:

The AGA represents the interests of a number of Brick & Mortar casino entities in the United States including Caesars Entertainment, the owners of multiple casinos as well as the World Series of Poker brand. By all accounts and metrics, Caesars is struggling financially and according to the Twitter account of PokerStars Head of Corporate Communications Eric Holreisser, Caesars approached PokerStars about taking some assets off their hands including the Rio Casino and the World Series of Poker.

This revelation came about after the AGA filed a legal brief in New Jersey, making the case to regulators against PokerStars buying the Atlantic Club Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, which would allow the site to reenter the US market once New Jersey’s online gambling bill is enacted. Another plot twist that occurred recently was that the AGA may have been behind the push to have the “Bad Actor” clause added to the recently passed bill in Nevada that allows the Governor to approve inter-state online gaming compacts. Both of these acts by the AGA were noted by PokerStars, and the site is now pushing back, claiming the AGA’s actions are in retaliation for PokerStars rebuffing Caesars offer.

This week PokerStars’ lawyers filed their own brief (a 15-page letter to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement), claiming the AGA’s actions are nothing more than “economic warfare,” adding that “the AGA’s inconsistency is also apparent in the stark contrast between the arguments raised in its petition and the prior efforts of one of its board members to form a business relationship with PokerStars.”

The AGA’s brief contained inflammatory language, calling PokerStars “a business built on deceit, chicanery and the systematic flouting of U.S. law,” and claiming PokerStars, “operated as a criminal enterprise for many years,” despite their settlement with the US Department of Justice where PokerStars admitted to no wrongdoing along with the site being allowed to apply for US licenses where regulations are in place.

The AGA went on to say that, “Any action allowing PokerStars to be licensed would send a damaging message to the world of gaming, and to the world beyond gaming, that companies that engage in chronic law breaking are welcome in the licensed gaming business. That message would dramatically undermine public confidence in gaming regulation and could cripple the industry’s public image.”

Needless to say, it looks like the battle for control of the US online poker market is only just beginning, which is both good and bad for the players – bad in that these companies may end up smearing each other and could drown-out competition; good in that it looks like US online poker is going to keep growing and is here to stay.


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