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PokerStars Won't Abandon Pursuit of Online Poker in U.S.


PokerStars, the world's leading online poker room, says it is keeping its foot on the gas even after having its license application suspended in New Jersey. In a year-end blog post this week, PokerStars' Head of Corporate Communications Eric Hollreiser expressed the company's continued determination to obtain a license in New Jersey and explore potential deals in other U.S. states.

"PokerStars will continue to pursue our goals and remain confident that we will have a strong presence and positive economic impact in the American market in 2014, whether that is in New Jersey or another state seeking the benefits of being home to a world-class online gaming company," Hollreiser wrote.

Hollreiser also commented on the shutdown of the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel which was recently sold at a bankruptcy auction to Caesars Entertainment and Tropicana. PokerStars' parent company (The Rational Group) had a deal in place last January to purchase the Atlantic Club for $15 million, but the casino pulled out even after receiving $11 million in payments from The Rational Group.

Hollreiser says the closure of the casino was avoidable.

"It's always sad when hard-working people lose their jobs, especially during the holiday season," he wrote. "This is particularly sad, though, because it simply didn't have to happen. At this time last year, PokerStars reached an agreement that would secure a new future for the casino, save the jobs of 1,800 employees and inject new blood, new technology and new finances into the Atlantic City casino economy."

"Now, the Atlantic Club will be stripped for parts and its employees will be put out onto the boardwalk in search of new jobs in 2014."

PokerStars formed a partnership with Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City after the deal with the Atlantic Club fell through. However, last month the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) suspended the company’s Internet gaming license application for up to two years. The DGE claimed that PokerStars founder Isai Scheinberg, who is still under U.S. federal indictment for allegedly violating the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act and Illegal Gambling Business Act, is a main reason for the suspension.

Regardless, New Jersey is still a big part of the company's plans.

"We continue to share the vision that online gaming will be a boon for New Jersey," says Hollreiser. "Unfortunately, PokerStars is no longer in a position to help the Atlantic Club employees and the local economy in general. The continued delays in our regulatory review prevent us from entering the market at this time and bringing the marketing and operational investment we have planned for the past year. Those investments included establishing a U.S. office in NJ which would employ 250-300 people in the first two years and launching extensive marketing programs to energize our loyal customer base in the area and grow the online gaming market in the state.

"We've delivered on similar commitments in newly licensed markets around the world and these investments and management practices established us as an industry leader and we've been recognized as a Great Place to Work in 2012 and 2013."

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