It might be on life support, but the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel in Atlantic City has rejected a purchase bid from the unsavory online gambling giant PokerStars. It’s a bold move not only because the Club is in free-fall–having been counted out by virtually everyone except its ownership–but also because Gov. Chris Christie signed Internet gambling legislation this year in anticipation of this deal. That wasn’t his only motivation, of course, but suffice to say he probably didn’t see this breakup coming. Nor did the industry watchers who were counting on the British company’s invasion to jumpstart a gaming recovery.
Politicians who have been on opposite sides of the deal all along had similarly contrasting reactions to the news of the broken engagement.
State Sen. Raymond Lesniak said: “That’s not good news for Atlantic City for sure. Unless the Atlantic Club can find a white knight to invest in its operations, they’re going to be a couple thousand people out of work, which will also have a broader impact on Atlantic City’s recovery. I hope there’s a Plan B.”
Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, on the other hand, had this to say: “PokerStars is a firm with a sordid history of criminal accusations of illegal gambling, money laundering, bank fraud, wire fraud and its founder remains under federal indictment for these charges. We all want Atlantic City to emerge from this economic slump as the thriving tourist attraction it once was in the past. … We do this by making the right choices about which firm we go into business with.”
Caputo gilded the lily a bit when he added, “The firm’s way of conducting business threatened to undermine the integrity and public confidence that Atlantic City has worked diligently to build since the enactment of the New Jersey Casino Control Act enacted in 1977.”
All right, Assemblyman. Let’s not get carried away.