It’s a surprising move by Caesars considering the two companies have been considered rivals since PokerStars continued to operate in the U.S. after UIGEA passed in 2006.
According to Forbes the deal was offered to PokerStars in February and the massive online gaming site eventually turned it down.
There was a statement by PokerStars Head of Corporate Communications Eric Hollreiser on the issue:
Caesars Entertainment approached PokerStars and offered to sell us certain assets, such as the Rio Casino in Las Vegas. Caesars suggested that this acquisition would give us a better relationship with Caesars and would help PokerStars gain a license in Nevada.
PokerStars declined the offer because we had no plans to acquire another casino in the near term.
Meanwhile PokerStars recently went through with plans to buy the Atlantic Club in New Jersey. It’s the first casino the company has attempted to purchase in the U.S.
Caesars-Backed AGA Opposes PokerStars Purchase in A.C.
The Atlantic Club in New Jersey
The Atlantic Club purchase has not gone off without a hitch as the American Gaming Association recently filed a 26-page brief opposing PokerStars’ petition for interim casino authorization in the state.
The lobby group claimed PokerStars “was operated as a criminal enterprise for many years” referring to the site’s continued presence in the U.S. after UIGEA.
The AGA went on to say that allowing PokerStars to be licensed would send a damaging message to the gaming world.
Sen. Jim Whelan feels differently. He has come out in support of the PokerStars deal and alleged that Caesars Entertainment, which owns numerous casinos in Atlantic City, is using the AGA to keep their competition out of the area.
“They are motivated by greed,” said Whelan. “They want to keep foreign investors out... The gaming association is their vehicle.”
PokerStars insists that its suitability for a gaming license in the U.S. is a matter for experienced regulators to decide.