PokerStars, the online poker gaming giant, obviously feels that the first step toward bringing legalized online poker to the US is to acquire a struggling land casino resort in Atlantic City, which is why it is in the process of acquiring the Atlantic Hotel Casino Club.
Internet poker became very popular in the US, especially after Chris Moneymaker won his millions playing the World Series of Poker (WSOP) in 2003. A large number of poker players made money playing Texas Hold’em poker at online poker sites till the US federal government put a stopper on it.
In 2006, the US federal government passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), which forced many online poker sites to leave the US poker market. While the act did not make it illegal for individuals to play poker online, it made it illegal for banks and financial institutions to process gambling related funds. The government must have believed that the only way to stop US dollars from flowing into the coffers of online gambling companies offshore was to make it as difficult for players to fund their online poker accounts. However, smart poker players and smart poker companies such as PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker found several ways to dodge the law till the DoJ cracked down on them in April 2011. Following this event, the above-mentioned poker sites left the US and the US poker craze diminished.
Now, the Rational Group is thinking of ways to get back into the US poker market. Although it faces a number of issues with the US government, the online gambling company is trying to acquire the Atlantic Hotel Casino Club, which will help it establish a base in New Jersey’s online gambling market.
While New Jersey is on the verge of passing a newly amended online gambling bill, which will make online gambling legal in its territory, Rational Group is trying to acquire the struggling land casino, which reported heavy fall in revenue during the past three quarters. Rational Group might have signed a settlement deal with the DoJ, but the deal has clearly not settled several issues. According to gambling lawyer Jason Gross, “Here you have these two companies, both owned by Rational Group, that went farther than most companies, and it may create further issues.”
If things work out as planned, Rational Group might play a major role in bringing online poker back to the US.