Politics holding up PokerStars in New Jersey

Chris Christie

PokerStars’ attempts to get licensed in New Jersey have seemingly come a cropper because of the political ambitions of Governor Chris Christie and the might of anti-online gambling campaigner Sheldon Adelson.

Christie has designs on the Republican nomination for the White House and the general consensus is that major donor and Las Vegas Sands owner Adelson will have a huge say in who will represent the party in the next presidential election.

New Jersey State Senator Raymond Lesniak claims that the Governor’s office has stalled giving the greenlight to PokerStars’ partnership Atlantic City’s Resorts Casino Hotel to open a $10 million poker room. “Christie put a stop to it,” he told Business Insider. “With a high degree of confidence it’s apparent that’s exactly what has happened.”

Local casino union boss Bob McDevitt agreed. “My impression was that PokerStars should have been already up and operating long before this point. My understanding is that it was the attorney general’s office and the governor who are holding up the approvals.”

Adelson set up the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling after the US Department of Justice re-evaluated the US Wire Act to allow some forms of online gambling. His well-funded campaigning has certainly put the cat amongst the pigeons in the US, especially when combined with his very generous funding of the Republican Party.

Last week Utah congressman Jason Chaffetz reintroduced a bill that would reimpose a federal ban on wagering over the internet. The measure, known as the Restoration of America’s Wire Act, would roll back a Department of Justice opinion made public in December 2011 that held the Wire Act of 1961, the law that prohibits transmitting wagers, applies only to sports and not to other forms of online gambling.

Chaffetz, a Republican, said it was wrong that a decision with such broad implications was made by a small group of attorneys. He said any decisions to legalise online gambling should be made by Congress.

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