Friday January 3, 2014 : POKERSTARS AND NEW JERSEY – A QUESTION OF INTERPRETATION.
Was Pokerstars end-of-year comment a not-so-veiled threat?
Pokerstars end-of-year critical blog commentary on the failure and auction of the Atlantic Club casino has been interpreted as more than just a parting shot at owners who walked away from a deal with the online poker giant, only to drive their own company to ruination.
On Thursday the online poker information site Online Poker Report re-visited and took an in-depth look at the blog post attributed to Eric Hollreiser, communications chief at Pokerstars' parent The Rational Group…and came to the conclusion that there was a thinly veiled message for New Jersey in the sub-text.
OPR says the intended recipient of that message was the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, which earlier this year slapped a two year suspension on the Pokerstars application for a New Jersey online gambling license, conditional on the company making certain changes centred around US-indicted founder Isai Sheinberg.
The message presents two points worthy of consideration, says OPR:
- A licensed and regulated Pokerstars has the potential to deliver hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars in investment to New Jersey by becoming involved in the nascent online gambling market there, and basing its headquarters in the state.
- It can make that sort of major investment and commitment in some other, more receptive and possibly even competing US state.
OPR's argument is persuasive when considered against the background of what Hollresier actually wrote:
"We continue to share the vision that online gaming will be a boon for New Jersey. 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.
“The central pieces of that investment are the US headquarters PokerStars is proposing to locate in New Jersey that would provide several hundred jobs and the eight-figure sum said to be earmarked for an overhaul of the Resorts poker room."
And in the concluding sentence in the Hollreiser post, which reads:
"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."
Perhaps strengthening the OPR interpretation of the blog post, our readers will recall our report earlier in December which noted that Pokerstars lobbyists have been energetic in lobbying politicians in neighbouring New York on internet gambling and its possibilities.