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The Discomfort Zone: Manage it for Growth and Success

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PokerStars vs. U.S. Casinos

THE WEEKLY SHUFFLE, 2013-03-03, by Ozone

When PokerStars and its founder, Isai Scheinberg, got pinched by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2011, it initially seemed like crippling news for the company. Since then, they have paid back U.S. players promptly, continued to expand their global brand and remain the undisputed number one online poker room, acquired Full Tilt Poker thereby paving the way for players to be repaid, and have even agreed to acquire an Atlantic City casino which will allow them to operate in New Jersey's new online gaming market.

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Talk about a company kicking some ass.

This week, it was revealed that Caesars Entertainment, owners and operators of the WSOP, even turned to PokerStars in an attempt to right their sinking ship. According to Forbes magazine, Caesars approached PokerStars offering to sell its Rio property, home of the WSOP in Las Vegas, as well as the WSOP brand itself. PokerStars declined the offer allegedly due to having no interest in acquiring another U.S. casino at this time.

Don't let them fool you. PokerStars would love to acquire the Rio property as well as the WSOP brand. Right now, they're not sure if they can. The company is facing resistance from a casino lobbying group known as the American Gaming Association over their efforts to finalize the purchase of the Atlantic Club Casino in Atlantic City. In a 26 page brief, the AGA petitions the state of New Jersey to deny the sale of the Atlantic Club to PokerStars saying that the group, "was operated as a criminal enterprise for many years."

They're not wrong about this. Anyone who thought Black Friday couldn't happen to PokerStars had their head in the sand.

But what's AGA's real motive here? To protect the poor American public from the big, evil corporate machine that is PokerStars? Yea right.

The AGA's real interest here is to preserve the U.S. casino owners who fund its operation from having their butts kicked by PokerStars in the newly-legal online gaming market in New Jersey. Caesars Entertainment and others know they cannot compete with PokerStars. In addition to simply needing to raise cash to pay off their staggering debts, that's why Caesars tried to sell the WSOP to PokerStars; rather than compete, why not concede your inferiority and profit off of it while doing so?

It's a messy situation all around right now as U.S. casinos brace themselves for a war vs. the best gaming operation on the planet. Residents of New Jersey should be rooting against the AGA succeeding in excluding PokerStars from the new market. However, if history is any guide, it would be unwise to bet against PokerStars coming out on top in what should be an interesting an ongoing battle.

The Weekly Shuffle is our Sunday column with our observations and commentary on the poker world. Have an idea for an article? Leave a suggestion on the feedback page.


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