Is Chris Christie the governor of New Jersey the one who is blocking the entry of PokerStars into the online business there?
Several news publications are pointing the finger at the governor in the stalled process that would bring in the world’s largest online poker operator to gain favour with anti-online gambling casino mogul Sheldon Adelson.
With the Presidential elections not far off and Chris Christie believed to be seriously considering a run at the nomination for the Republican party, many local observers are saying the governor is doing his level best to block the entry of PokerStars in order to secure possible campaign donations from Adelson.
However the governor office has totally denied the rumours he is doing anything to block PokerStars the whispers still remain and indeed grow following revelations in newspapers last week that Adelson had even loaned Christie his private jet.
It was back in 2013 that PokerStars originally wanted to gain entry into the New Jersey online market with the potential purchase of the now closed Atlantic City’s Resorts Casino Hotel, so long as the online poker operator gained an online license the company was willing to invest another $10 million in building a purpose built poker room to the casino, hotel.
But the online license did not happen and PokerStars were left out in the cold when online gambling started in New Jersey. At that time State Sen. Raymond Lesniak, a Democrat who sponsored the bill that legalized online gambling in the state, blamed the company’s inability to get licensed on Christie.
“Christie put a stop to it,” said Lesniak. “With a high degree of confidence it’s apparent that’s exactly what has happened.”
It was back in December 2013 that the DGE suspended PokerStars from gaining a license for up to two years with this announcement: Department of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) has suspended their application for two years.
“The Division of Gaming Enforcement has determined that the application of Rational Services Limited (PokerStars) casino service industry licensure (CSIE) will be held in a suspended status for a period of two years,” the New Jersey DGE said in a statement. “The Division, within that period, may consider a request for relief to reactivate the application if significantly changed circumstances are demonstrated at which time the Division’s investigation of PokerStars and its affiliated entities and associated individuals will be resumed to assess suitability.”
The suspension is in regard to the companies founder Isai Scheinberg, who is still under federal indictment from the US DOJ even though PokerStars have resolved their issues with the justice department Mr Scheinberg’s indictment remains on the federal law enforcement’s books.
“The Division’s determination is based primarily on the unresolved federal indictment against Isai Scheinberg for the alleged violation of federal gambling statutes, namely, the Illegal Gambling Business Act and the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, and the involvement of certain PokerStars executives with Internet gaming operations in the United States following the enactment of UIGEA,” the New Jersey DGE said in its statement.
Eric Hollreiser, Head of Corporate Communications for PokerStars, said following the announcement, “We are disappointed that the NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement has suspended the review of our application at this time. We note that the DGE will resume the review of our application if our circumstances change. We will remain in open dialogue with the DGE and will update them on changes in our situation as they occur.”
Now that Amaya Gaming has acquired PokerStars last year it was believed that their license would be approved earlier as Amaya Gaming already has a license to operate in the state.
Sheldon Adelson has a strategy of slowing and delaying any progress of online gambling and specifically PokerStars as he sees it if the online gambling firm get into New Jersey there would not be a state anywhere that would be able to refuse the online gambling giant.
Some are calling for an enquiry into Christie’s possible involvement into stalling the PokerStars application, it seems this story will run for some time to come unless PokerStars and Amaya Gaming do receive their license soon.