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PokerStars' Purchase of Atlantic Club Casino Hotel to Face Tough Licensing Scrutiny

The Press of Atlantic City

February 18, 2013

As seen in this Press of Atlantic City article, "Online global gambling giant PokerStars will face intense regulatory scrutiny when its parent company seeks approval to buy the struggling Atlantic Club Casino Hotel.

The proposed deal represents the first time in Atlantic City that an Internet gambling company would join up with a brick-and-mortar casino, giving a glimpse of the future in the emerging field of online wagering in the United States.

In July, PokerStars agreed to pay $547 million to the U.S. Justice Department and $184 million to poker players overseas to settle a case — including charges of money laundering, bank fraud and illegal gambling — stemming from its online betting operations. PokerStars, the world’s largest online poker operator, admitted no guilt or wrongdoing in the settlement.

'This is why the New Jersey regulators, when they scrutinize the Atlantic Club sale, will take a more in-depth look and pay attention to the Department of Justice settlement,' said Jason Gross, an attorney with the Newark firm Sills Cummis and a former corporate counsel to casino operator Caesars Entertainment.

Gross noted that the Rational Group could be further challenged by its ownership of Full Tilt Poker. The Full Tilt Poker brand became a Rational Group subsidiary following the Justice Department settlement.

'Both companies had issues with U.S. law when, in 2011, the Department of Justice closed down their websites after they continued accepting U.S. bets,' Gross said of PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker. 'Here you have these two companies, both owned by Rational Group, that went farther than most companies, and it may create further issues.'"