With online poker legislation sitting on the desk of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the parent company of PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker positioned itself to be a player in the future of the industry in the United States by agreeing to buy the fledgling Atlantic Club Casino.
Rational Group has agreed to terms to acquire the former Atlantic City Hilton, filing papers with the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement in order to get regulatory approval for the purchase.
“The Rational Group, which operates PokerStars and other global gaming brands, has agreed to acquire The Atlantic Club Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, NJ from Resorts International Holdings,” said Eric Hollreiser, head of corporate communications for the Rational Group, “pending the grant of an Interim Casino Authorization by the relevant New Jersey authorities.”
In addition to giving Rational Group a foot in the door in a potential online poker economy in New Jersey, they will also be breathing life into one of the weakest casinos in Atlantic City. The Atlantic Club lost $13.6 milllion through the first nine months of 2012, and their gambling revenue fell 11 percent from 2011, putting them tenth out of Atlantic City’s 12 casinos.
“The acquisition of The Atlantic Club Casino Hotel will secure up to 2,000 jobs and maintain the economic benefits the casino brings to New Jersey,” said Hollreiser. “During this interim period, the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel will operate as normal under current management, who will be retained following completion of the acquisition.”
Since PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker were shut down by the Department of Justice in April of 2011, neither has provided real money gaming to customers in the United States. PokerStars paid $547 million to settle the judgments against them and admitted no wrongdoing, and as part of the settlement they are allowed to rejoin the US marketplace when and if online gambling is deemed legal.
The process has the potential to last for several months, with the Division of Gaming Enforcement entitled to 90 days to investigate and file a report with the New Jersey Casino Control Commission. That’s followed by a 30 day period in which the Commission can conduct a hearing and make a final decision.
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