PokerStars NJ iGaming Application to be Suspended for Two Years
One of the most talked-about applicants for a New Jersey iGaming license, PokerStars, found out today that their wait to gain approval may be very long indeed.
The Press of Atlantic City is reporting that the world’s largest online poker room’s license application will be shelved for at least two years, though the application may be reconsidered during that time if substantial changes are demonstrated by the Isle of Man-based company.
Indictments against site’s founder at heart of suspension, along with UIGEA violations
PokerStars, which entered into a partnership deal with the oldest land-based casino in Atlantic City, Resorts, after a failed attempt to purchase the struggling Atlantic Club Casino Hotel, is being held up due to indictments brought down against its founder Isai Scheinberg, according to the Press.
Scheinberg, whose exact whereabouts are not publicly known, is under indictment in the United States for activities related to the company’s continued operation of U.S.-facing real money online poker games after the 2006 passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). That law does not explicitly ban the game of online poker, however it does restrict financial transactions relating to online wagering.
In its decision, the New Jersey DGE also cited PokerStars’ post-UIGEA operations as a factor in its decision to put the brakes on the company’s application.
“The division … may consider a request for relief to reactivate the application if significantly changed circumstances are demonstrated at which time the division’s investigation of PokerStars and its affiliated entities and associated individuals will be resumed to assess suitability,” said Lisa Spengler, a New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement spokeswoman, via a written statement.
Company made a few attempts to enter market
PokerStars’ efforts to gain a foothold in the New Jersey online betting market – and by doing so gain re-entry into the fledgling regulated online poker market in the United States – has been heavily chronicled by the gambling press as well as the mainstream media.
PokerStars, which settled its case with the United States government in the summer of 2012 without admitting to any wrongdoing, first attempted to enter New Jersey by purchasing the now-bankrupt Atlantic Club, a deal that fell apart when the Atlantic Club terminated the deal this past spring.
In what may now be taken as a prescient move, the Atlantic Club, which was able to pocket $11 million that PokerStars had already paid toward a $15 million total purchase price, pointed to PokerStars’ failure to gain an interim operating license from New Jersey officials as the reason behind the cancellation of the deal.
After moving quickly to announce a new partnership with Resorts, PokerStars said that, if approved, it would build a new poker room at the Atlantic City casino.
For its part, it remains unclear if Resorts, which has now been licensed in New Jersey, will move to find a new gaming partner.
“We are disappointed that PokerStars was not issued a license. We are hopeful that they can resolve their issues with the DGE in an expeditious fashion,” the president and CEO of Resorts, Mark Giannantonio, remarked in a statement.
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