PokerStars is fighting opposition to its takeover of the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel by accusing its detractors of launching a thinly veiled anti-competitive campaign.
“The AGA’s sole interest here is economic warfare,” PokerStars’ Washington, D.C.-based lawyers A. Jeff Ifrah and David Deitch said in a brief, referring to the American Gaming Association, the country’s leading casino industry trade association. “For all of its lofty rhetoric, the only interest the AGA actually has in this proceeding derives from the fact that some of its members perceive themselves to be Rational’s competitors.”
The accusations were in response to the submission of a brief by the American Gaming Association opposing the issuance of interim casino authorization to Rational Group, PokerStars’ parent company.
Rational Group is seeking interim casino authorization from the Division of Gaming Enforcement and Casino Control Commission as part of its bid to buy the Atlantic Club for an undisclosed price.
The gaming association is expected to ask regulators on Wednesday for permission to participate in the matter as part of the licensing process. PokerStars is opposing that request, saying the gaming association’s brief is 3 inches in height and sifting through it would lead to undue delay, lawyers argued.
If the association is allowed to proceed with its opposition, it “would empower the AGA’s thinly veiled anti-competitive campaign,” PokerStars said in its brief.
The Internet gambling giant also took aim at Caesars Entertainment, which operates four casinos in Atlantic City and has representatives who sit on the gaming association’s board, implying that the company is retaliating against PokerStars because it turned down an offer to buy a Caesars owned casino in Las Vegas.
Caesars apparently offered to sell the Rio Casino on Feb. 8 to PokerStars, suggesting that “this acquisition would give PokerStars a better relationship with Caesars and would help PokerStars gain a license in Nevada,” according to Rational.
“PokerStars declined the offer because it had no plans to acquire another casino in the near term,” Rational lawyers said in their brief. “Within weeks, the AGA submitted its petition to the commission.”
Caesars spokesman Gary Thompson said he could not comment on whether the company had offered to sell the Rio Casino to PokerStars. He said he believed PokerStars was trying to divert attention away from the regulatory issues the gaming association was raising in its brief.
“An attempt to divert attention from that issue is not productive,” Thompson said.