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PokerStars chides against Atlantic Club closing, may look to markets outside N.J.

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In a blog post published Tuesday by online gaming giant PokerStars, the Isle of Man-based company said it was “saddened” by last week's announcement that the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel will close on Jan. 13 after being auctioned off in U.S. bankruptcy court.

The casino, which will be first to shutter in Atlantic City in seven years, has entered into asset purchase agreements with two rival operators, Tropicana Entertainment and Caesars Entertainment, worth a combined $23.4 million, according to the Associated Press.

"It's always sad when hard-working people lose their jobs, especially during the holiday season," PokerStars head of corporate communication Eric Hollreiser wrote. "This is particularly sad, though, because it simply didn't have to happen."

PokerStars maintains that the closing of the Atlantic Club was avoidable, referring to its plans in December 2012 to purchase the casino altogether as the state moved toward legalizing online gaming. But the agreement was scrapped earlier this year as critics warned that giving the green light to the company, which has faced its fair share of legal trouble with the federal government, would damage the state's widely-held reputation as the toughest gaming regulator in the world.

But the company's troubles in New Jersey don't end with the failure to obtain the Atlantic Club. After signing on to be the internet gaming partner for Resorts, the state Division of Gaming Enforcement announced earlier this month that it would be suspending its license application for two years due to an unresolved federal indictment against a company executive.

PokerStars had planned on setting up a New Jersey office if approved that the company claims would have employed up to 300 people within its first two years.

In Tuesday's blog post, Hollreiser said that the company isn't closing the door on its plans for New Jersey, but will now also be looking to do so elsewhere.

"Instead, 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," he wrote.

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Andrew George

Andrew George

Andrew George covers the Statehouse from NJBIZ's Trenton bureau. Born and raised in N.J., Andrew has also spent time as a reporter in D.C., Texas and Pa. His email is andrewg@njbiz.com and he is @AndrGeorge on Twitter.

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