PokerStars operates the world’s largest online poker site. It is licensed in dozens of countries and leads the market in two of the three European ring fenced jurisdictions.
PokerStars ran into legal problems in the U.S. after being indicted by the Justice Department on April 15, 2011. In 2012, PokerStars and its parent company Rational Group came to terms with the U.S. Government. PokerStars paid a total of $731 million to settle charges.
Part of this agreement included the acquisition of Full Tilt Poker and repayment of over $300 million in player funds that were lost due to what the U.S. Department of Justice described as a “ponzi scheme” under previous Full Tilt Poker ownership.
DoJ Allowed PokerStars to Reenter U.S.
Part of the settlement with the Department of Justice allows PokerStars to reenter the U.S. online poker market. While this is an important green light, licensing is actually up to the states.
Some states that plan to offer online poker and casino games have proposed a bad actor clause. This means that companies that operated in the U.S. without a license are forbidden to gain entry into the market.
New Jersey does not have a bad actor clause. This, and the fact that PokerStars was acquired by Amaya Gaming in July 2014, should allow for PokerStars to get licensed in New Jersey if terms of typical licensing are met. PokerStars was conditionally approved for a New Jersey interactive gaming license on September 30, 2015. It must now have its platforms and other facets of its service approved by state regulators.
Amaya Gaming announced that PokerStars will launch in New Jersey on March 21, 2016. PokerStars will hold a $25,000 freeroll on March 27 that is available to any player located in New Jersey that creates an account before then.
PokerStars partnered with Resorts in Atlantic City. PokerStars will provide online poker and casino games under its brand, as well as Full Tilt Poker’s logo. Casino games will be provided by Amaya Gaming, while the poker product is expected to use the standard ones used in other countries by the respective sites.
PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker will not be able to network the international player base with the New Jersey sites. New Jersey players will only be allowed to play others in the state, at least until liquidity sharing agreement are made by state officials.
PokerStars and Atlantic Club
Before PokerStars partnered with Resorts, it attempted to buy the failing Atlantic Club. The casino and PokerStars’ parent company Rational Group came to terms in 2012 that would have seen a PokerStars branded poker room and the saving of the troubled resort.
The contract allowed either party to withdraw if the transaction was not closed by April 2013. It was not closed by that time, and Atlantic Club decided to back out of the deal, even though PokerStars had been infusing it with cash to keep it afloat.
It was thought that Atlantic Club was looking for a higher bidder. Whatever the reason, it backfired. Atlantic Club fell into bankruptcy later in 2013 and ceased operations in January 2014.