PokerStars Bid To Buy Into New Jersey Fails?
While the proverbial song has yet to be sung by the proverbial obese performer, it appears as if PokerStars’ attempt to purchase the Atlantic Club Casino has been mortally wounded.
The wound in question was delivered late this week by a New Jersey judge who ruled in favor of lifting a temporary restraining order that was keeping the contested deal between PokerStars and the Atlantic Club in place.
PokerStars secured the restraining order, which prevented the ACC from selling or attempting to sell the casino to another buyer, in early May after the Atlantic Club notified PokerStars of the ACC’s intent to terminate the deal.
PokerStars responds to the New Jersey ruling
PokerStars issued a formal response only hours after news of the ruling broke.
The statement was made via the Twitter account of PokerStars corporate spokesperson Eric Hollreiser, who said simply that the company is “reviewing today’s ruling. We remain committed to New Jersey and to contributing to its economy.”
What will PokerStars do next?
According to court filings, PokerStars has already invested over $10mm into the Atlantic Club Casino. With that amount – and possibly the company’s future in the United States – at stake, it seems reasonable to assume that PokerStars will pursue additional legal action in an attempt to reinstate the deal.
In terms of the specific options PokerStars might have from a legal perspective, it’s impossible to evaluate their position without seeing all of the documents involved in the purchase agreement – documents that have not been made public as of this article.
Alternative states for PokerStars?
If New Jersey is out of the picture for PokerStars, what other states could serve as an entry point to the regulated United States online poker market? Delaware has already chosen 888 as the primary provider for their online gambling offerings.
We can also probably rule out states with explicit laws on the books that deal with online gambling, such as Utah and Washington. And California’s latest online poker bill seems designed specifically to exclude PokerStars in every possible way.
The best chance for PokerStars appears to be a state like Illinois, or a state with a fragmented gambling industry – one where PokerStars could find a small partner sufficiently motivated to sign on with the company. However, that was basically the scenario with the Atlantic Club Casino, and it proved untenable even under those relatively cooperative circumstances.
Is someone else going to buy the Atlantic Club?
The Atlantic Club remains a casino facing an uncertain financial future, and it’s not immediately obvious that the current owners could leverage their ability to apply for an online gambling license to any great benefit.
Given those circumstances, it seems quite likely that the ACC is still for sale – and possible that a purchaser has already been lined up.
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