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PokerStars In Talks to Buy Rio Casino and World Series of Poker Brand?

14/03/13 3:57 PM

How big has online poker become? If you consider recent developments regarding the famous World Series of Poker, the storied Rio casino in Las Vegas and online giant PokerStars, then it seems that online poker may soon be the predominant player in both the virtual and brick-and-mortar card playing worlds. Information was recently released which could have far-reaching implications on the future of your online poker experience.

In February, an unnamed senior executive of Caesars Entertainment Corp. evidently contacted a high-ranking PokerStars exec to discuss a potential deal. While that may not sound all that important or unique, the properties that Caesars put on the table definitely are. Supposedly, the Rio casino in Las Vegas and the World Series of Poker brand were offered by the Caesars executive to PokerStars in a deal which would position the online poker company more favorably if and when they seek a US online poker interactive gaming license in Nevada. A source close to PokerStars said that they turned down the deal, since they had “no plans to acquire another casino in the near-term.”

You may remember that PokerStars recently made an offer to purchase the struggling Atlantic Club casino in New Jersey, since New Jersey recently passed an all-inclusive online gambling bill. Caesars was no doubt licking its chops about a possible partnership after PokerStars positioned themselves to enter the New Jersey online gambling market. New Jersey is the third state in the US to pass online gambling legislation, and is the largest state so far. Caesars declined to comment on this story, but Eric Hollreiser is a spokesperson for PokerStars, and he confirmed both the offer by Caesars as well as his company’s rejection of the deal.

While that could have been the end of the proposed deal, the next move by Caesars proves just how serious they are regarding a deal with PokerStars and a substantial entrance into the online poker arena. After PokerStars spurned the Caesars proposal, The American Gaming Association (AGA) filed a brief with the N.J. Casino Control Commission And Division Of Enforcement voicing its opposition to the PokerStars ownership of physical casinos in that state. It is significant to note that Caesars Entertainment is one of the most prominent members in the AGA.

On the one hand Caesars is offering two of the most well-known gaming properties, the Rio casino and the World Series of Poker brand, as enticements for PokerStars to enter into an agreement with them concerning online poker. And on the other hand, as a respected and powerful member of the AGA, Caesars is trying to block the PokerStars purchase of the Atlantic Club in New Jersey. It would seem that a backroom agreement between the casino kingpin and virtual poker giant would give Caesars New Jersey access to online gaming in that state, while also delivering Nevada’s virtual poker play to PokerStars. What seems like a win-win proposition is currently flying in a holding pattern, and we will continue to update this dramatic story as breaking news is released.

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