Poker Stars and Full Tilt Poker parent company Rational Group US Holdings, has petitioned New Jersey authorities for permission to purchase the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel. If it gets the green light the deal would be unprecedented in at least two ways.
On one hand, it would be the first time an Atlantic City casino is bought by an online gambling company. On the other hand, it would also be Rational’s first such land-based enterprise, adding a brick and mortar establishment to its portfolio while waiting for online casinos in the US to be allowed again.
The Atlantic Club is certainly ripe for the picking. It has been generating the second least revenue of Atlantic City’s 12 casinos, hemorrhaging players and posting an operating loss. The potential buyer has pledged much needed investments to help restore the casino’s attractiveness to gamblers across the country.
Rational is not the only online company considering such a step. Last year Zynga made a preliminary move towards becoming a gambling operator on Nevada soil, with the hopes that it would soon be legal to play online poker in America, the provision of which may require a land-based license.
While Rational is already diversified to an extent, as it is not only the owner of major poker sites, but produces TV programming and conducts live tournaments as well, this would still be a major shift in its portfolio.
The proposed purchase will be examined thoroughly by the state, especially in light of the recent run-in that Poker Stars had with the federal government, which then ended in a settlement.
New Jersey has already passed a bill to legalize online gambling, but it is yet to be signed into law by Governor Christie. The recent failure to amend US gambling news on a federal level may now prompt the state to act on its own.