PokerStars brick & mortar expansion continues

Posted by Steve Ruddock on Dec 20, 2012 Posted in Poker News | No Comments »

At the tail-end of the year PokerStars has been making a number of strategic moves into the Brick & Mortar casino industry. Since November there have been four deals announced, deals with the Hippodrome in London, the Circus Groupe in Belgium, the Grand Waldo in Macau, and most recently the Casino Gran in Madrid, as well as a rumored deal with an Atlantic City casino, the Atlantic Club, which if it comes to fruition would be the largest and most significant of the three.

The moves are seen by most as an apparent attempt by PokerStars to dip its toes into the Brick & Mortar casino industry, which would likely solve two problems at the same time: First it would allow the site to get ahead of potential legislation that would favor current Brick & Mortar operators (especially in Atlantic City): Second it would give PokerStars a new marketing presence as well as host casinos for their numerous poker tours 00there is no word on whether online poekr will be offered at the sites for players.

The Hippodrome deal saw PokerStars by a minority percentage of the casino in order to brand the newly renovated card-room with the PokerStars logo. This would make the Hippodrome’s poker room the first of its kind, and would offer a venue for poker tours sponsored by PokerStars, such as the UKIPT and the EPT.

The deal reached between PokerStars and the Casino Gran Madrid also comes after a massive renovation, outfitting the poker room with state of the art features and amenities. Spain has turned into a poker hotspot in recent years, and with their new online poker legislation that was enacted this year the country is one of the fastest growing poker markets in the world.

However, the real feather in the cap for PokerStars would take place if they managed to complete the deal for the Atlantic Club Casino on the Atlantic City Boardwalk. Legislation has just passed the New Jersey state legislature that would allow online poker in the state (New Jersey would join Nevada as the only states to pass such bills) and like Nevada’s legislation, currently licensed casinos (brick & mortar) would be fast-tracked for licensing. Without the deal PokerStars would be left out in the cold, or would be forced to partner with an existing casino in order to get in on the ground floor of New Jersey online poker.

According to a number of reports, the deal to purchase the Atlantic Club Casino would set PokerStars back some $50 million, and considering it is an older (dilapidated would be a good description), lesser trafficked, property on the Boardwalk, the money is obviously being invested with the singular purpose of gaining entry into the US online poker industry –something that PokerStars settlement with the US Department of Justice earlier this year allows them to do.


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