Acquisition Talk Accelerates as NJ Moves Closer to Online Gambling

The real estate market for Atlantic City casino properties has certainly been anything but hot for the last several years.

But – somewhat paradoxically – the impending introduction of online gambling in New Jersey has managed to change all of that.

That’s because operating an online casino in New Jersey requires a stake in a land-based one. And with online gambling slated to launch in a matter of months, there’s an increasing amount of chatter surrounding just who’s kicking the tires at the variety of casinos said to be available for the buying in Atlantic City.

PaddyPower the latest name mentioned as possible ACC suitor

The most talked-about casino on the block has to be the Atlantic Club Casino. Regular readers of our U.S. poker news section will no doubt recall the epic (and still ongoing) legal battle between PokerStars and the ACC that spilled out of PokerStars’ failed attempt to purchase the ACC.

Since PokerStars exited the picture, the primary name we’ve heard thrown around as a replacement buyer would be Churchill Downs. That’s a name that makes sense to many, given the company’s recent tendencies toward expansion and obvious focus on the online space.

But a new name entered the speculative running this week when multiple sources reported that PaddyPower – who did file a NJ license application earlier in August – is sniffing around the Atlantic Club to see if there’s a deal to be had. This talk is all obviously preliminary, but with a license application submitted and only a few weeks before New Jersey expects online gambling to be up and running, a deal might come together in a hurry.

Genting’s name thrown in the mix this week

Adding to the list of overseas imports said to be considering buying their way into Atlantic City, a reputable source for New Jersey gambling news passed along an interesting Twitter tidbit this week claiming that Genting was considering a closer look at another A.C. property: the far more upmarket, but still financially distressed, Revel.

Genting is much earlier in the game than Paddy – unless they’ve filed a license application under the radar – but the company has the experience and the resources to make up that gap quickly should they set their minds to the task.

And what about Wynn?

While Genting maybe fall under the category of total speculation in terms of their plans for New Jersey, Wynn’s situation is far less theoretical. The company has confirmed that they did in fact apply for some level of licensing from New Jersey authorities related to online gambling, although we don’t know what specific license – operator, technology provider or marketing affiliate – the company is shooting for.

Obviously an operator issue would require some sort of partnership – along the lines of the deal that 888 and Caesars have worked out – or for Wynn to buy a casino in New Jersey outright.

Launch date fast approaching

Adding quite a bit of urgency to all of these rumors is the impending launch date – still penciled in by NJ state regulators as November 26th – for regulated online gambling in the state.

That’s certainly not a deadline in the sense that operators will still be able to come online after that date. And it’s obvious at this point that only a handful (the consensus number seems to be about 3) of operators will actually have functioning sites ready to go and approved by state regulators on the go-live date.

But being among the first tier of sites to launch brings with it a number of significant advantages in terms of player liquidity, free press and the ability to get your product out in front of the competition both in technological and branding terms.

On top of that, a successful launch by a brand like Caesars in New Jersey would certainly help them to make the push for regulated online gambling in other states where the company has a presence like Illinois and Louisiana.

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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