Wednesday August 20,2014 : NEW JERSEY ASSEMBLYMAN ATTACKS POKERSTARS
Claims that the world's biggest online poker operator is unsuitable for licensing in New Jersey.
Assemblyman Ralph R. Caputo, a Democrat and the deputy majority whip and chair of the New Jersey House of Assembly’s Tourism, Gaming and Arts Committee, launched a vicious attack on Pokerstars Tuesday, perhaps motivated by growing reports that under its new Amaya Gaming ownership, the world's biggest and most successful online poker operator has ambitions in the New Jersey online gambling market.
Caputo notes in an op-ed article in the Star-Ledger newspaper and NJ.com that the Amaya parent group is now seeking a remote gambling licence from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, a move he feels should be subjected to the closest scrutiny due to what he considers is Pokerstars' "questionable" history in the broader US online poker market, and particularly the enforcement actions and settlements that followed Black Friday, when Pokerstars exited the US market under its former owners.
The Assemblyman plays on the word "accused" (but not convicted) in referring to Pokerstars and its former management, but acknowledges that the company paid out $731 million in settlements with the US Department of Justice, along with ensuring that all its players – and those of sister Full Tilt – impacted by the Black Friday closures were paid.
Caputo is concerned that, unlike brick and mortar casino licence applicants, Pokerstars-Amaya will not have to present itself at a public hearing, pointing out that under New Jersey laws online companies are subjected as vendors to a "…much less stringent approval process and one that does not require any public transparency."
That will possibly trigger a reaction from the DGE, a regulator well respected for its thoroughness and strict application of state regulatory requirements.
In his carefully worded article, Caputo implies that Pokerstars may have dirty hands in a legal sense arising from its US activities pre-Black Friday, and he suggests that the change in ownership should not "….negate the company’s checkered history. There is no denying the activities that drew indictments from the Justice Department helped build their brand into the gambling powerhouse it is today."
He urges regulators and state lawmakers alike not to rush into approving a licence for Pokerstars, which he characterises as a "firm with a tainted past."
The Assemblyman concludes by observing:
"To allow Amaya, which may be a legitimate company, to simply purchase assets and people that are the fruits of the poisonous tree – an enterprise that drew indictments from federal law enforcement while profiting handsomely – and let them operate in New Jersey would be an insult to everyone who has gone under scrutiny to work or do business in the casino industry over the past 30 years.
"There’s too much at stake to act hastily and without the necessary due diligence to ensure that a bad actor is not given free rein in New Jersey and that all players seeking the privilege to do business in this state understand that dubious business dealings will not be tolerated."