Press of Atlantic City: PokerStars moving forward to purchase Atlantic Club Casino


The parent company of online gaming giant PokerStars is moving forward with a purchase of the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel, the Press of Atlantic City reported late Tuesday afternoon.

The newspaper said Isle of Man-based The Rational Group, which owns PokerStars and FullTilt Poker, filed papers with the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement seeking regulatory approval to purchase the Atlantic Club from current owner Resorts International Holdings.

As a first step, the Rational Group filed an application with the DGE seeking preliminary approval to acquire the Atlantic Club, a process known as interim casino authorization.

“The division can confirm that an application requesting interim casino authorization and other relief was received from Rational Group,” the agency told Press of Atlantic City in a statement Tuesday.

The sale would close after another agency, the New Jersey Casino Control Commission, followed with final regulatory approval.

In a statement sent to the Review-Journal, Eric Hollreiser, the head of corporate communications for the Rational Group, confirmed the agreement to acquire the casino.

“The acquisition of The Atlantic Club Casino Hotel will secure up to 2,000 jobs and maintain the economic benefits the casino brings to New Jersey,” Hollreiser said. “During this interim period, the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel will operate as normal under current management, who will be retained following completion of the acquisition.”

The Wall Street Journal first reported in December that PokerStars was negotiating to purchase the troubled Atlantic Club for $50 million.

PokerStars agreed in August to pay $731 million to the federal government to settle a nine-count indictment stemming from the April 2011 crackdown on illegal Internet poker.

The company didn’t admit to any wrongdoing, paid back money owed to American players, and agreed that a portion of the settlement money would be used to pay back Full Tilt customers.

PokerStars is also allowed to operate in states where online gambling is legal.

In December, New Jersey lawmakers approved a bill to allow online gambling in the state. The measure is awaiting a signature from Gov. Chris Christie, who has not yet said whether or not he will sign the bill. He has until Feb. 4 to take action.

One of the bill's provisions allows offshore companies to apply for a New Jersey casino license, which could open the door for the Rational Group to buy the Atlantic Club.