Is Gov. Chris Christie Blocking PokerStars’ NJ Launch?

February 13th, 2015 | by Greg Shaun
Gov. Chris Christie has been accused of blocking PokerStars entry into NJ.

Is Christie blocking PokerStars? (Image:Getty)

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the man that brought online poker to the Garden State back in 2013, is allegedly behind a plot to keep the world’s largest gaming operator out of the US.

According to a recent report by Business Insider’s Hunter Walker, Christie, who has longstanding relationship with Sheldon Adelson, has blocked PokerStars from entering New Jersey.

Taking comments from State Senator Ray Lesniak, as well as Unite Here Local 54 union President, Bob McDevitt, Hunter reports that Christie has been directly involved in putting a stop to PokerStars getting a license.

Christie put a stop to it. With a high degree of confidence it’s apparent that’s exactly what has happened,” said Lesniak.

A Known Fact Among Insiders

Back in 2013, PokerStars came close to investing $10 million and opening a new poker room inside Atlantic City’s Resorts Casino Hotel. Such a deal would have allowed PokerStars to launch an online gaming site in New Jersey; however, that plan was scrapped at the last minute for a number of reasons and since then the operator has struggled to obtain a footing in the state.

Whether or not Christie was involved in this breakdown of this deal is unclear, but many industry insiders are pointing the finger of blame at beleaguered Governor. In fact, adding to Lesniak’s suspicions, McDevitt stated that PokerStars should have been up and running by now.

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,” McDevitt postulated.

In addition to the claims attributed to Lesniak and McDevitt, Walker has also collected a selection of anonymous comments which support the assertion that Christie’s involvement in blocking PokerStars is “pretty well known“.

– “There’s no reason that the deal shouldn’t have gone through. But the government’s holding back,” said one source.

– “I think politics has played a role in it,” said another insider.

– “There is no question in my mind that Sheldon Adelson is the reason why this hasn’t moved forward, and that’s the only reason,” added a final source.

Christie Silent but Trouble Brewing

As yet there has been no official comment on the allegations from anyone connected to Christie or PokerStars; however, it doesn’t look like the issue will be going away any time soon.

With mainstream media outlets such as Business Insider and Press of Atlantic City now following the story, the links between Christie and Sheldon Adelson are likely to be put under the spotlight.

Christie has made no secret of his desire to run for President in 2016 and Adelson has been equally public about his quest to fund a Whitehouse candidate.

This dynamic has brought the two Republicans together over the last few years, but this relationship now appears to be turning toxic as the question of paying politicians to push personal agendas comes to the fore across the US.

For the poker community, this latest issue could be a blessing in disguise. Although PokerStars may be suffering at the moment, any evidence that Christie is blocking the poker site as a favor to Adelson could be bad news for both Republicans.

In fact, Adelson and the anti-online poker bill he supports (RAWA) have already come under fire this year from voters that value the 10th Amendment and despise wealthy donors buying power in Congress. Of course, whether or not these allegations have any weight or not remains to be seen, but the latest news could certainly be a huge boost for the US online economy if it proves to be true.


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