American Gaming Association Once Again Not Backing PokerStars Atlantic City Deal

While PokerStars may be celebrating its recent deal to partner with the Atlantic City land-based casino Resorts in an Internet gambling venture, not everyone is thrilled about the turn of events.

More specifically, the American Gaming Association, a powerful gambling industry group, says that it plans to oppose PokerStars’ entry into the regulated New Jersey online gambling market.

AGA previously came out against Atlantic Club deal

Earlier this year, the AGA made headlines when it announced that it did not support a now defunct deal that PokerStars was negotiating to take over a struggling Atlantic City casino, the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel.

The agreement began to unravel in April, when the Atlantic Club notified the parent company of PokerStars, Isle of Man-based the Rational Group, that it was terminating the purchase contract owing to the fact that the Rational Group failed to secure an interim operating license to run the casino prior to a drop-dead date stipulated in the contract.

PokerStars sued to be able to complete the purchase, however earlier this month a judge upheld an earlier court decision that ruled in favor of the Atlantic Club. The two companies had been negotiating the takeover since last year, and despite the fact that early rumors put the purchase price in the $50 million range, the actual price of $15 million came as a shock to many. Even more shocking was the fact that PokerStars had already paid $11 million of that sum before the deal began to come undone, money which the Atlantic Club is permitted to keep under the terms of the contract.

For its part, the AGA is opposed to PokerStars operating any form of business in the United States, be it a land-based casino or an online poker room, because of what it sees as PokerStars’ flouting of the UIGEA by continuing to offer US-facing online poker games after the law was enacted back in 2006.

Newly-retired former president backs online gambling, just not PokerStars 

Last month the AGA underwent a major change when its CEO and president, Frank Fahrenkopf, stepped down from his leadership role. Fahrenkopf announced his plans to turn over the helm of the group several months ago, however he plans to stay on as a consultant through 2013. While Fahrenkopf backs regulation of online gambling at the federal level, he has been vocally opposed to PokerStars’ inclusion in the US market.

Even without Fahrenkopf, who until last month was the only president the organization has known since its founding back in 1994, the group plans to maintain its opposition to PokerStars operating in the United States. Both PokerStars and Resorts will need to be licensed separately by the New Jersey Department of Gaming Enforcement before they can launch real-money online gambling sites. Industry pundits have posited that PokerStars has a very good chance of winning the approval of regulators, considering the fact that the company was quite close to completing the process when the Atlantic Club deal fell apart.

Speaking to the changes the US gambling industry has seen since the AGA’s inception nearly two decades ago, the Nevada-born Fahrenkopf told USA Today back in January, “We’re a mainstream part of the economy now, with hundreds of thousands of people employed in casinos nationwide. We do polls every year and it’s pretty consistent: 15 percent of people oppose all forms of gambling. You’ll never change them and all we can do is respect their views. But 80 percent believe gaming is all right, and that’s a very positive thing for our industry.”

Fahrenkopf previously served as the chairman of the Republic National Committee from 1983 until he left that post in 1989.

About Cliff Spiller

Cliff Spiller has been an online writer for 14 years. He worked for Small World Marketing for a decade, where he covered topics like gaming, sports, movies, and how-to guides. Since 2014, he has blogged about US and international gambling news on,, and

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