PokerStars Appeals Atlantic Club Case
After nearly a month of silence with regard to the case, an appeal has been filed in the matter of PokerStars versus New Jersey’s Atlantic Club Casino Hotel.
Last month a New Jersey judge upheld the Atlantic Club’s termination of a purchase deal between the struggling land-based Atlantic City casino and the online poker room. The two companies had reportedly been negotiating the acquisition since late last year.
Company alleges judicial errors
The Rational Group, parent company of PokerStars, which has already paid $11 million toward a $15 million purchase price – a figure the Atlantic Club would be permitted to keep in the event that the ruling in its favor is upheld – has filed its appeal alleging that the judge on the case committed errors.
Amongst Isle of Man-based Rational Group’s complaints are that the judge in the case, Judge Raymond Batten, misinterpreted the purchase agreement, as well as allowed documents not officially entered as evidence to be considered in the case. The company also claims that Judge Batten permitted witness testimony that should not have been heard.
PokerStars wants to move forward with the purchase
In the weeks since Judge Batten handed down his ruling, the lack of any update on the case led some to speculate that PokerStars was possibly looking for a different Atlantic City property in which to invest, with some industry experts musing that perhaps the company had taken an interest in Revel, another embattled casino in the city that has just recently emerged from bankruptcy protection.
In the absence of news, others were led to conjecture that the online poker giant PokerStars, which just saw the one hundred billionth hand played on its site this week, and the so-called “locals only” Atlantic Club had resumed communicating and were renegotiating the terms of the sale, which had essentially timed out after PokerStars failed to file a licensing application with New Jersey regulators within the timeframe laid out in the purchase contract.
Deal would mark a re-entry into the United States market for PokerStars
Eric Hollreiser, a spokesperson for PokerStars, who said last month that the company remains “committed” to New Jersey, confirmed that an appeal had been filed in the case but offered no additional comments. Even without further elaboration, clearly the company is devoted to pursuing the Atlantic Club deal until all avenues have been exhausted, and for good reason.
Should PokerStars be cleared to purchase and operate the Atlantic Club, a property that ranks among the worst, revenue-wise, of Atlantic City’s twelve casinos, it would mark a re-entry for the company into the United States gambling market. The company’s US-facing online poker site was shut down back in 2011 amid a government crackdown on illegal gambling. PokerStars settled its case with the US Justice Department last summer without admission of any wrongdoing.
A takeover of the Atlantic Club would be the first step for PokerStars to gain an online gambling operating license in New Jersey. The Garden State became the third in the nation behind Delaware and Nevada to green-light Internet wagering when its governor, Chris Christie, signed its online gambling bill into law at the end of February.
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