Resorts Casino to start Internet gambling but with Sportech, not PokerStars, as host

Industries Associated Press

New Jersey's oldest casino is about to get in on the newest form of gambling.

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Resorts Casino Hotel won approval Wednesday to launch its Internet gambling site, which may be fully operational within several days.

But the approval by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement isn't the one many online gamblers were hoping for.

Resorts has been partnered with PokerStars, the world's largest online poker website, since July 2013. And PokerStars still has not been approved to operate in New Jersey, following legal trouble some of its executives encountered.

Instead, Resorts obtained approval to partner with Sportech NYX Gaming LLC to offer online gambling.

"One of the benefits of having waited more than a year to start this is we understand what the challenges of the market are, and we're able to offer the kind of content that customers have shown they want," said Mark Giannantonio, Resorts' president.

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Resorts will begin a five-day testing period during which the Division of Gaming Enforcement will make sure its equipment and systems work properly. If all goes well, the site could be cleared for full operation on Feb. 25.

Internet gambling began in New Jersey on Nov. 25, 2013, but is off to a slow start, having taken in $122 million last year.

Resorts becomes the sixth Atlantic City casino with an Internet gambling operation, joining the Borgata, Caesars, Bally's Tropicana, and the Golden Nugget. Trump Plaza, which closed Sept. 16, and Trump Taj Mahal, which continues to operate, lost their Internet gambling operations last year.

Each Atlantic City casino approved for Internet gambling can offer up to five websites. Giannantonio said Resorts still plans to add PokerStars to its lineup once the company is approved. A division spokeswoman said Wednesday the state's investigation into the company is ongoing.

PokerStars was recently bought by Amaya Gaming, which started licensing talks with New Jersey regulators last June.

PokerStars tried twice in 2013 to be licensed in New Jersey. But the division suspended the company for up to two years, citing legal problems involving some company executives, including an unresolved indictment against its founder. Executives who were involved in PokerStars' acceptance of bets in the United States after the federal government made it illegal to take payments in connection with illegal gambling through the Internet were to step down as part of the sale to Amaya.

The website, which stopped doing business in the U.S. in 2011, paid a $547 million fine to the Justice Department, but didn't admit wrongdoing.

PokerStars tried to buy the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel, but that deal fell apart and the casino shut down in January 2014, one of four in Atlantic City to close that year.

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Wayne Parry can be reached at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC