PokerStars may have been rebuffed in their attempts to purchase a casino in Atlantic City, but that wasn’t going to stop them from getting their online gambling products into the New Jersey Internet market. The Rational Group (parent company of PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker) announced a deal this week that will see it partner with Resorts Casino Hotel, in order to provide poker and casino games to New Jersey online gamblers starting later this year.
“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 Rational Group CEO Mark Scheinberg.
Resorts Pads Its Brand
In fact, Resorts has made a point of adding strong partner brands to their Atlantic City property in an attempt to provide a more attractive destination for visitors to the city. The Mohegan Indian tribe – which runs the Mohegan Sun casinos in Connecticut and Pennsylvania – was recently brought in to manage the day-to-day operations of the casino, and a $35 million Jimmy Buffett-themed entertainment and gambling center called Margaritaville opened just months ago.
“This is another blue chip partner for Resorts to complete a wonderful series of brands,” said Resorts owner Morris Bailey.
One remaining question is what PokerStars will do in its current bid to purchase the Atlantic Club. While PokerStars once again lost a legal battle over the aborted purchase in a New Jersey appellate court earlier this week, that does not mean that the legal action is over in that case – at least not if PokerStars chooses to pursue further litigation.
Licensing is Next Step
It’s also unclear whether that court case could have any impact on the Resorts/PokerStars partnership. The Atlantic Club had noted that it doubted whether PokerStars would be able to obtain a casino operators license from the state, citing that as a major factor in their abandonment of the purchase deal.
PokerStars will now need to apply for an online gambling license from state casino regulators, with applications for such licenses due by the end of July. While it is expected that these licenses won’t be quite as difficult to qualify for as obtaining one for casino ownership, the exact rules and level of scrutiny that partners will receive is unclear, as this is the first ever round of licenses being awarded in New Jersey. One major factor working in PokerStars’ favor is the lack of a “bad actor” provision, like the one in Nevada, which will keep the company – and any other online gambling companies that operated in the United States after the passage of the UIGEA regulations – from opening a site in that state for several years.