The worlds’ most recognizable brand of the online poker lifestyle is branching out from the virtual world into the glitz of the Atlantic City boardwalk empire. PokerStars, the flagship brand of the Rational Group gaming conglomerate, is purchasing the Atlantic Club Casino, a landmark hotel and full-service casino right on the boardwalk. The gaming industry is closely watching this transaction, which could become a landmark move for the future of hybrid brick-and-mortar and online casino operations.
A Changing Legislative Climate
PokerStars entered their bid to acquire the 800-room Atlantic Club shortly after popular New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed a new law that will enable residents of the Garden State to participate in online gambling. The new law contains an important provision and caveat: Lawful online gambling must be affiliated with the casino industry in New Jersey.
Although New Jersey residents are not barred from playing a few rounds of Texas hold’em online, enterprises such as PokerStars cannot accept deposits from players in the United States. PokerStars and other providers of online gaming have been at odds with U.S. authorities over this issue, but the legislative change in jurisdictions such as New Jersey signals a welcome change in the legislative climate.
Providing a Full Casino Experience
A spokesman for PokerStars told American news network ABC that the company envisions organizing tournaments in their own casinos. Part of the business model of PokerStars is to support the poker lifestyle, which often includes international travel and tourism. Online poker players tend to be very social and enjoy the opportunity to participate in live tournaments sponsored by brands they trust.
A Major Development
The Atlantic Club deal is still pending approval by New Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforcement and its Casino Control Commission. PokerStars should expect plenty of scrutiny with regard to getting the green light and allowing poker players in the Garden State to either join online poker rooms or visit the boardwalk. To this end, PokerStars is already facing some opposition from the American Gaming Association, a lobbying group dedicated to protecting the monopolistic brick-and-mortar casino gaming industry in the U.S.
Several jurisdictions in the U.S. are warming up to the idea of capturing the lucrative global online gambling market. Other states considering the legalization of online gambling for the purpose of increasing revenue include Nevada, home to Las Vegas. Once PokerStars is given a license to operate a casino in the U.S., other online gaming providers will be expected to follow suit.