Morris Bailey of Resorts Casino Discusses the Licensing of PokerStars

Resorts Casino owner Morris Bailey, whose casino will partner with PokerStars, spoke about the decision of the Division of Gaming Enforcement this week to approve PokerStars for the New Jersey gaming market. Bailey said he was looking forward to launching the new service after the standard test pariod.

Testament to Their Commitment

Morris Bailey issued his statement through a Resorts Casino press release. In the release, Morris Bailey said, “Our partnership with PokerStars is a testament to our commitment to offering our players the very best gaming and entertainment experience. We are proud to join forces with PokerStars as they make their entry into the United States online gaming market, and look forward to officially launching after completion of the regulatory test period.

In the statement, Bailey, who bought Resorts Casino in 2010, intimated that the long waiting period was worth the wait. The original deal with PokerStars was signed in June 2013, so the casino had to wait nearly 2 and 1/2 years to see the plan come to fruition. During that lengthy period, there were times when it appeared PokerStars might never gain licensing in New Jersey.

PokerStars Impact on New Jersey

The decision by the DGE to approve the world’s largest poker site should transform New Jersey’s online poker industry overnight–as soon as the new gaming portal launches. PokerStars has a poker player community five times the size of the other New Jersey competitors. That gives the poker site a built-in advantage in the number of tables offered, the variety in rules, and bigger jackpots. Everything comes together so the PokerStars/Resorts combination should be the leader in the Garden State’s iPoker niche. The question everyone wants to know is: how much will PokerStars matter.

Mark Giannantonio, President and CEO of Resorts Casino Hotel, says he expects the difference to be great. Giannantonio said, “We are confident that the partnership with PokerStars will boost our online gaming activities and help us emerge as the leader in New Jersey’s poker market. With PokerStars approved for licensed online gaming, our players will have the opportunity to experience real-money poker games from the world’s number one poker website.

Mohegan Sun’s Involvement

The decision comes after several significant moves in the past month for Resorts Casino. Recently, MoheganSunCasino.com and ResortsCasino.com had successful launches. One of the key moments in the past few years was when Morris Bailey hired Mohegan Sun to manage Resorts Casino. The Connecticut gaming tribe’s connections to Resorts Casino now pay off in a major way, as it will be able to host players on the PokerStars gaming platform.

Morris Bailey hopes to take the top spot in online poker from Borgata. Since the November 2013 rollout of online gambling in New Jersey, Borgata has been the #1 competitor in the online casino and online poker industry, while the Caesars Interactive sites combine to have been the #2 in both niches. Most believe PokerStars/Resorts should take number one in the card playing market. PokerStars and its owner, Amaya Gaming, are going to support the online casino side of the product, too, which should be a strong competitor.

About Resorts Casino

Resorts Casino was the first Atlantic City casino to launch back in 1978. Over the decades, it has seen other casino brands enter the market which have gotten more attention: Steve Wynn’s old Golden Nugget, Donald Trump’s Trump Plaza and Taj Mahal, Caesars Atlantic City, and in recent years, Borgata. By 2009 and 2010, Resorts Casino was bankrupt and appeared ready to close its door.

That’s when Morris Bailey and a now-deceased partner entered the picture. They bought Resorts Casino, turned the operation over to Mohegan Sun in 2012, and have built a solid operation in the intervening years.

The Licensing Process

The decision to sign with PokerStars in June 2013 was seen as a coup at the time. Then the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement suspended the licensing process in October 2013, just one month prior to the rollout. Since then, PokerStars/Resorts had been in limbo. Resorts Casino even launched its own site in March 2015, though this was done through a software company partly owned by Amaya Gaming.

David Baazov’s Canada-based Amaya Gaming has been a key to licensing for over a year now. In August 2014, Amaya Gaming purchased PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker for $4.9 billion. Many believed PokerStars soon would be licensed, because Amaya Gaming had 60 licenses in the United States and was seen to have a clean bill of health.

David Rebuck on the Probe

That did not prove to be the case, because Amaya Gaming soon was embroiled in an insider trading investation back in Canada, due to irregularities surrounding the Rational Media/PokerStars purchase. David Rebuck of the Division of Gaming Enforcement said this last week that the insider trading concerns were the reason for the delayed licensing. His people launched an investigation which spanned 6 jurisdictions and 2 countries, and involved the interview of 70 to 80 people. After a long review process, the DGE has approved PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker.

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 BestOnlineCasinos.com, USPokerSites.com, and LegalUSPokerSites.com

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