PokerStars to Enter New Jersey Online Gambling Market via Deal with Resorts

Resorts Atlantic City

Despite a week that saw a crushing legal blow dealt to their effort to revive a stymied deal to purchase one Atlantic City casino, PokerStars came out on top after all, with news breaking earlier this week that the world’s largest online poker room has struck an Internet gaming deal with Atlantic City’s oldest land-based casino, Resorts.

The parent company of PokerStars, the Rational Group, based in the Isle of Man, and Resorts, Inc. will partner on a New Jersey online gambling enterprise, pending approval of both companies by New Jersey gaming regulators.

Deal comes on the heels of Atlantic Club defeat

News of the deal came just before the July 4th holiday, after PokerStars suffered a legal defeat on Monday with regard to their attempts to overturn a previous court decision upholding the termination of a purchase contract the company entered into last December to take over the ailing Atlantic Club.

A judge refused to take on the appeal, choosing to maintain the lower court’s decision allowing the Atlantic Club to cancel the sale, in the process pocketing $11 million of a $15 million purchase price that PokerStars has already paid.

The Atlantic Club, originally developed back in the early 1980’s by the celebrated king of modern casino gambling thanks to the resorts he built in Las Vegas, Steve Wynn, was once one of the city’s most lucrative properties.

Time and a lingering down casino industry in Atlantic City have taken a toll; the Atlantic Club is today one of New Jersey’s least profitable casinos. Of Atlantic City’s twelve casinos, the Atlantic Club ranks toward the bottom, having last year re-branded itself as a downmarket locals casino.

New deal will allow PokerStars entry in nascent US online gambling market

The agreement with Resorts marks a turnaround for PokerStars, which saw its US-facing sites shut down by the US government in 2011. Last summer it settled its civil case with the federal government without admitting wrongdoing. Should the company be licensed by New Jersey regulators – something that seems very likely – it will be the first time PokerStars offers games to American players within a regulated market.

“Resorts is a fantastic partner for us and we are looking forward to launch PokerStars in the U.S. in association with the other quality brands Resorts has brought to Atlantic City,” said the Rational Group’s CEO Mark Scheinberg.

New Jersey third and most recent state to enact online gambling law

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie singed a comprehensive Internet gambling bill into law in February. The state’s gambling industry is pinning its hopes on the new online betting market, which by law is required to be based in Atlantic City.

The real-money gambling sites, which are expected to go live by Thanksgiving, will offer an array of betting options, from online poker to classic casino games like blackjack and baccarat. Delaware and Nevada have similarly enacted online gambling legislation, however in Nevada the market is limited to online poker only. The first site there, Ultimate Poker, went live in April.

In Delaware, a variety of games will also be permitted. That state’s online gambling industry will be administered by the Delaware State Lottery.