Internet Poker Company May Attempt A Comeback By Buying An Atlantic City Casino

from the hacking-IRL dept

While it’s lost steam, you likely recall what is commonly referred to as the “poker boom” of the 2000s. Due in large part to the sudden interest in the game resulting from ESPN’s coverage of the World Series of Poker, it seemed like everyone was playing. This took the form not only of a massive uptake in friendly neighborhood games, but also in the emergence of online poker as a serious force in the internet world. That is, of course, until the United States government, conversely beholden to a largely religious lobbying effort coupled with an inability to collect taxes on the gaming, decided to shut down most of the popular poker sites. The result of the efforts by these anti-freedom groups was the crafting of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which then led to the takedowns of all kinds of poker sites. Predictably, this simply caused those sites to relocate domains and move their money processing facilities offshore, further depriving the government of both oversight and any chance at revenue. Recently, Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey, has sought to expand legalizing online gambling in his state, and is currently working through the legislative/vetoing process to do so as he sees fit.

Which brings us to today, where a company called the Rational Group, owners of the previously popular PokerStars and Full Tilt sites, is looking into buying a distressed Atlantic City casino, giving them a legitimate home-base of operations within America, allowing them to reopen their online poker doors, and providing a massive revenue opportunity to the state of New Jersey.

Rational is taking its own gamble (sorry) in trying to develop a US base within the Atlantic Club, which lost $13.6 million during the first three quarters of last year amid declining revenue. The problem for Rational, however, is that its crown jewels are still on shaky footing with US regulators. In July, PokerStars paid $547 million to the DoJ and $184 million to foreign players in a bid to settle charges. The question now is whether or not the slate has been wiped clean.

“Both companies had issues with U.S. law when, in 2011, the Department of Justice closed down [PokerStars’s and Full Tilt’s] websites after they continued accepting U.S. bets,” attorney Jason Gross told Press of Atlantic City. “Here you have these two companies, both owned by Rational Group, that went farther than most companies, and it may create further issues.”

Let’s avoid mincing words here: the idea that legal complications stemming from a what was essentially a religious lobbying effort (with some help from the pro and college sports leagues) could prevent a now legitimate business from operating and generating state revenue would be a travesty. A tyranny of the minority serves nobody in this instance. The people want online gambling, the state wants online gambling. Holding Rational’s feet to a fire sparked by bad legislation is wrong, particularly when that company wants to invest into a distressed NJ business and help turn it around.

With that said, the broader point appears to be that online gaming is going to come back, whether Rational succeeds in this endeavor or not. As the article notes:

By legally forcing online gaming to have a home casino in the States, it could both reopen the online market while also capitalizing on that sweet tax revenue. Rational and its all-powerful brands might not bring online poker back, but it does look increasingly likely that online gaming is coming back.

And, in my opinion, not a moment too soon. I’m all for religious freedom and belief, but those stop where my freedom begins. The sooner the government gets out of the business of enforcing morality on the internet, the better.

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Companies: full tilt, pokerstars, rational group

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Comments on “Internet Poker Company May Attempt A Comeback By Buying An Atlantic City Casino”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Politicians Sure Can Pick Winners

Chris Christie said “I think that one of the things that Revel will be is a catalyst for additional modernization and investment by the other casinos to say, listen, if we grow more people here coming to the region and we’re offering something that looks nice further down the boardwalk, maybe people will want to look there as well.”

Fat fuck must have been thinking about cheesburgers (horse) at the time.

And people think he is a good govenor and would make a good president…

jobs, jobs, jobs… we do not need more jobs. What the fuck has all this “progress” been for over the last century. All this technology and we are still slaves to needing a job? Mis-guided tech if you ask me.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Politicians Sure Can Pick Winners

Fuck the govt. it is obviously a big part of the problem. Govt. has a lot of power to “steer the ship” but they are too close minded and only think in the short-term (like public companies). It is not about getting a hand out from the govt. it is about making smart choices.

When the promoted mentality is to accumulate more and more to accomodate us on our short stay on this planet then anyone who falls into this paradigm is misguided (myself included). The need for more jobs is a fallacy. Production without demand is detrimental to people, animals and the planet. Everybody dies but not everybody lives.

Is the purpose in life to have a job so that you can pay taxes to fund wars and the overclass while having a little left over to buy things you think you need?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Are you an anarchist?

Only people who don’t understand how probability works care about gambling being legal.
So, probably about 75%-90% of the population care.

May as well let ’em have what they want. They want to trust in “luck” more than math, they’ll get what they deserve, and they’ll have only themselves to blame.

ChrisB (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I agree. This is a perfect example of “a lowering tide drops all boats.” Vegas hated online gambling because they thought it was taking money away from them. In fact, it was creating more money, by keeping interest in the game high between trips to Vegas.

That’s not even all of it. By making it illegal and difficult to get money into and out of the sites, the whole thing became more risky, culminating in lots of people losing money.

This is similar to piracy, with media companies thinking piracy is a lost sale, when in fact it keeps people engaged with media they otherwise couldn’t afford. Playstation and XBOX are going to learn this soon when they announce their expensive new systems with download-only games and locked down ecosystems. These next gen consoles are going to be disappointed in sales.

NoahDouglas (profile) says:


I like the online casino. I didn’t think it was that interesting. I will not call myself a professional, so I select games for amateurs with the help of Internet resources such as . I myself do not really understand where the best gaming platforms are, and what is better to skip. I confess that I myself would never have found 5 gambling video games that have become my favorites.

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