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U.S. Casino Lobby Ferociously Trying To Block PokerStars Entry Into New Jersey

PokerStars Fires Back, Pointing Out Settlement With U.S. Government


As American web poker players have to endure the wait for their pastime to return, the fight for online poker supremacy in the U.S. between gaming interests just got nasty.

The American Gaming Association, the U.S. commercial casino industry’s top lobbying group in Washington D.C., filed a brief Monday with the state of New Jersey in an attempt to persuade regulators not to allow PokerStars to acquire a casino in Atlantic City. The completion of the purchase would set the stage world’s top online poker site to once again take action from American customers after it left the market on Black Friday.

In the 28-page document, the AGA dropped heavy blows on PokerStars, claiming that the company “operated as a criminal enterprise for many years.” PokerStars was under federal indictment until it settled in July for more than $700 million. In the deal, PokerStars didn’t admit to any wrongdoing — something very common for large firms accused of financial crimes.

The AGA said it opposes PokerStars coming into the brick-and-mortar business “because the integrity of the gaming industry would be gravely compromised by any regulatory approval of PokerStars, a business built on deceit, chicanery, and systematic flouting of U.S. law.”

“Any action allowing PokerStars to be licensed would send a damaging message to the world of gaming, and to the world beyond gaming, that companies that engage in chronic lawbreaking are welcome in the licensed gaming business,” the brief continued.

PokerStars responded in a statement that “these are matters for expert regulators to determine, not self-interested partisans picking a public fight.”

The company also pointed out that the U.S. Department of Justice explicitly gave it permission to reenter the U.S. if licensed by a state and that it was allowed to bail out Full Tilt Poker, which gave the government enough money to repay customers. (American victims of Full Tilt haven’t yet been compensated, but that’s a whole other story and not the fault of PokerStars.)

“PokerStars is one of the largest and most respected internet gaming companies because we work closely with regulators and are in good standing with governments around the world, holding licenses in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Estonia, Belgium, Malta and Isle of Man,” the statement concluded. "We will continue to work positively with regulators in New Jersey and elsewhere whenever they review our qualifications.”

Members of the AGA include some of the biggest casino firms in the world and many who are eying online gambling in the United States. According to a Tuesday article by Forbes, the AGA brief starts a public battle between PokerStars and Caesars Entertainment, owner of the World Series of Poker brand, for dominance in the American market place.

A New Jersey lawmaker told the Press of Atlantic City that Caesars, which does business in Atlantic City, is using the AGA as a “vehicle” to “keep foreign investors out.”

Online poker is only legal in Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey, which legalized the activity just last week. PokerStars once was lobbying for legalization in Nevada and even reached a tentative partnership with Wynn Resorts, but all that fell through when the federal indictments were unsealed in April 2011, a development which frustrated Nevada lawmakers.

The AGA move could also been seen as deepening the rift between Nevada and New Jersey, which both have lawmakers who want their respective state to become a technology hub for the next frontier of the real-money Internet gaming industry.



over 8 years ago

"The American Gaming Association, the U.S. commercial casino industry’s top lobbying group"

Title says it all.


over 8 years ago

AGA actually has a valid arguement.


over 8 years ago

The government{Congress} makes the laws and the DOJ enforces the laws and PS flaunted the US laws. Whether you like it or not the UNITED STATES GOVERnMENT sets the laws for the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA not some BS poker site.