PokerStars positioning itself for US return

Posted by Steve Ruddock on Dec 08, 2012 Posted in Poker News | No Comments »

With their Black Friday issues firmly behind them, it appears that PokerStars is positioning itself for a return to the US market. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the world’s largest online poker room (which also owns the second largest online poker room, Full Tilt Poker, via its proxy The Rationale Group) has expressed interest in purchasing the Atlantic Club, an Atlantic City casino located on the famed Boardwalk.

PokerStars settled with the US Department of Justice earlier this year, sending a massive $547 million settlement payment to the US DOJ, and in return receiving Full Tilt Poker (along with its $184 million debt to foreign players) and a dismissal of the charges filed against the site on April 15, 2011. In the agreement it was expressly stated that PokerStars admitted to no wrongdoing, and should online poker ever become legalized in the United States, PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker would have every opportunity to apply for a gaming license.

The reason PokerStars may be interested in the Atlantic Club is because New Jersey is once again close to passing an online poker bill (in the same mold as the Nevada legislation which will go into effect early in 2013) and it’s widely believed that existing casinos licensed by the state will be fast-tracked for an online gaming license.

According to the Wall Street Journal report the deal would see PokerStars pay in the neighborhood of $50 million for the Atlantic Club, and older, lesser-trafficked property on the Boardwalk, almost solely to get on the fast-track for US online gaming licenses.

This wouldn’t be the first brick & mortar casino purchased by PokerStars; earlier this year the online poker giant purchased a large stake in the London casino, The Hippodrome. However, unlike their stake in the recently renovated Hippodrome, the Atlantic Club would be far more of a project as the Atlantic City casino doesn’t even possess a poker room at this point.

In the coming days and weeks we will likely learn if there is any teeth to this rumor, which if true would be a major boost for the chances of US online poker expanding to at the very least New Jersey in the next year or so. It should also be noted that whenever we have seen a rumor revolving around PokerStars (the purchase of Full Tilt, player signings, and what have you) they are almost always proven correct.

You will need a subscription to view the Wall Street Journal article, but Nathan Vardi of Forbes Magazine has also written an excellent piece on the potential purchase of the Atlantic Club by PokerStars, which you can read here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/nathanvardi/2012/12/06/pokerstars-is-coming-back-to-america/

 

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