Chris Christie Blocking PokerStars in New Jersey as a Favor to Sheldon Adelson

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In September of last year, New Jersey State Senator Raymond Lesniak hinted that PokerStars‘ approval to operate in the Garden State was imminent. But as the months pass by, many are wondering just what, exactly, is holding up the process. Speaking to Business Insider, several political insiders place the blame squarely on the shoulders of casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (pictured).

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

The entry of PokerStars into the market could bring significant benefits to beleaguered Atlantic City. The site hopes to use its brand recognition and marketing prowess to sign up a new wave of online poker players. The gaming giant had also planned to invest $10 million in a showcase poker room at Resorts Atlantic City. Local union leader Bob McDevitt believes that PokerStars could bring upwards of 1,000 much-needed jobs to the community.

So why would Christie, the Governor who once signed off on internet poker in New Jersey, delay something that seems like a clear win for the state? The answer is likely tied to Christie’s personal ambitions of becoming commander-in-chief in 2016.

Through massive donations to GOP candidates, Las Vegas Sands CEO Adelson(pictured) has become such a powerful force in American politics that right-wing presidential hopefuls are virtually required to pay homage to the billionaire and parrot his causes.

Unfortunately for Christie, Adelson is vehemently opposed to online gambling and has been making good on his promise to spend “whatever it takes” to put a stop to it. That puts Christie in an awkward position, but delaying PokerStars’ licensing could be a way for him to prove his loyalty in the eyes of the Republican mega-donor.

Lesniak, who was instrumental in legalizing i-gaming in 2012, says it’s common knowledge that Christie is doing Adelson a solid by blocking PokerStars. “It’s pretty well known,” he said. “But I don’t think anyone’s going to go on the record to confirm it.”

McDevitt was one of those who was willing to speak out, saying that, “PokerStars should have been already up and operating long before this point.” He added that it was his own understanding that the Attorney General’s office and the Governor were holding up approval.

Another source was more resolute, saying, “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.” Christie has called the allegations that he put PokerStars on ice as a favor to Adelson “nonsensical.”

Christie’s relationship with Adelson, however, is the subject of a biting New York Times piece, which questioned whether the two “friends” were acting in an inappropriate manner for a politician and a private citizen. While through the years, the Governor and his family have enjoyed perks like jaunts on Adelson’s private jet, Christie claims that the men don’t discuss issues like online gambling policy during such trips.

Adelson, however, tells a different tale, once letting slip that the two discussed online gambling legislation. He implied that Christie wanted to veto the New Jersey i-gaming bill, “as Mr. Adelson would’ve wanted,” but decided against it. He allegedly told the tycoon that the only reason he didn’t use the veto was out of fear that the move would be overridden.

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39 COMMENTS

    • seems the list of what we as citizens are allowed to do is
      getting smaller & smaller as the list of what is not allowed that is always being made by people ull never
      meet or likely never even see gets
      longer & longer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • I think it’s quite possible Adelson may have his own I-gaming venture he’s working on and is looking to hold up the others, especially Poker Stars, until his is ready to launch. He may be using this whole thing as a ruse to try and get a jump on the competition.

      The whole thing is bizarre. Why has he singled out PS for Christie to nix? Makes no sense to do that but allow others to operate. There needs to be a lot deeper investigation into their relationship. That smells bad.

    • boy how far has Christie fallen. Had he just followed the straight and narrow i believe he could would’ve been the republican choice to run for President in the next election or the one after it. But the corruption surrounding him has ruined his chances.

    • boy how far has Christie fallen. Had he just followed the straight and narrow i believe he could would’ve been the republican choice to run for President in the next election or the one after it. But the corruption surrounding him has ruined his chances.

      A part of me believes that by doing this favor for Adelson, that perhaps the old man has enough power to get him out of this recent criminal investigation. Could be wrong but the timing is rather amazing on it if you ask me.

    • Why has he singled out PS for Christie to nix? Makes no sense to do that but allow others to operate.

      This is one of those things you’ve gotta be in NJ to really understand, or at least be very familiar with what’s going on with the poker sites there. The market has really failed to grow over the last several months, and prospects are pretty dim at the moment. The existing companies operating there are making some efforts, but PokerStars would change the landscape dramatically with their far superior product, industry knowledge and customer service. People playing in that state are pretty frustrated with the options at the moment – which have basically been whittled down to 2 networks. There needs to be a fire lit under these people in order to get growth happening again and inspire other states to follow suit. PokerStars can provide that fire. And that’s exactly why Adelson does not want them to get started.

    • This is one of those things you’ve gotta be in NJ to really understand, or at least be very familiar with what’s going on with the poker sites there. The market has really failed to grow over the last several months, and prospects are pretty dim at the moment. The existing companies operating there are making some efforts, but PokerStars would change the landscape dramatically with their far superior product, industry knowledge and customer service. People playing in that state are pretty frustrated with the options at the moment – which have basically been whittled down to 2 networks. There needs to be a fire lit under these people in order to get growth happening again and inspire other states to follow suit. PokerStars can provide that fire. And that’s exactly why Adelson does not want them to get started.

      He knows that once PokerStars gets in there, the show is over. Sickening that one person can have so much influence, and the lengths to which politicians like Christie will go to suck up to him.

    • It’s pretty obvious that Christie is nothing more than a mobster, and not by this issue alone. Comical that people are actually considering voting for this guy for POTUS. 0 chance.

    • It’s pretty obvious that Christie is nothing more than a mobster, and not by this issue alone. Comical that people are actually considering voting for this guy for POTUS. 0 chance.

      Uh, people voted for Obama twice, so don’t rule anything out!

    • What a loser. He really was one of the only republicans on the planet I had respect for. Well safe to say that is gone

    • This is one of those things you’ve gotta be in NJ to really understand, or at least be very familiar with what’s going on with the poker sites there. The market has really failed to grow over the last several months, and prospects are pretty dim at the moment. The existing companies operating there are making some efforts, but PokerStars would change the landscape dramatically with their far superior product, industry knowledge and customer service. People playing in that state are pretty frustrated with the options at the moment – which have basically been whittled down to 2 networks. There needs to be a fire lit under these people in order to get growth happening again and inspire other states to follow suit. PokerStars can provide that fire. And that’s exactly why Adelson does not want them to get started.

      Couldn’t have said it better myself.

    • So correct me if I’m wrong. But does this mean the land based casinos are paying big money to these people like Sheldon and Christie so they can keep out the online casinos? Or is there another motive behind this I’m missing?

    • This is a pretty sad look at how government really looks. The fact that Christie would allegedly put one donor ahead of 1,000 jobs in a state that sorely needs jobs is shameful.

    • This is a pretty sad look at how government really looks. The fact that Christie would allegedly put one donor ahead of 1,000 jobs in a state that sorely needs jobs is shameful.

      this. he should be impeached by the people of NJ. If youre going to turn down 1000 jobs and money that will help the budget that is dismal at best…. then he is not living up to the oath that he took when he took office. He should be jailed for this, its beyond corruption. The fact that you take one mans sole interest… which is to get richer and exploit more poor people over the betterment of the State and its residents which he took an oath to do is just shameful and unbelievably wrong and takes a lot of balls to do it in a fashion that basically tells the general public fuck you theres nothing you can do cause were rich and make the laws.

      Politics is the worst thing that is currently going on, on this planet.

    • this. he should be impeached by the people of NJ. If youre going to turn down 1000 jobs and money that will help the budget that is dismal at best…. then he is not living up to the oath that he took when he took office. He should be jailed for this, its beyond corruption. The fact that you take one mans sole interest… which is to get richer and exploit more poor people over the betterment of the State and its residents which he took an oath to do is just shameful and unbelievably wrong and takes a lot of balls to do it in a fashion that basically tells the general public fuck you theres nothing you can do cause were rich and make the laws.

      Politics is the worst thing that is currently going on, on this planet.

      I mean I agree with all of this. It’s also what politicians are doing literally everywhere in the country

    • geeez!!!

      Christie cant block anything..He’s not the guy who can say yes or no to stars..the stars issue is a tad bigger than christie

    • The US government is the largest most corrupt mafia in the world. Extorting trillions from its own citizens and other governments around the world. 30 million people need to go in to their HR on the same day and tell them to turn the tap off. IRS can’t handle that kind of disobedience.

    • don t bother investigating that old fuck
      what he deserves is a curb stomp!

      SHELLY AND CHRIS BOTH@@!!!!

    • Is it possible that the governor may believe that Pokerstars is not a positive for gaming in his state. Would not a good local product favour his state more? I’m just playing devil’s advocate here but the most vocal advocates here for pokerstars, as stated, derive profit from pokerstars. I’m Australian and we have the dilemma here of na?ve politicians that have banned local on-line poker gaming operators and so players, en masse, are forced to use international sites rather than invest in a good fair local operator with effective governmental controls to ensure honesty and fairness.

    • Is it possible that the governor may believe that Pokerstars is not a positive for gaming in his state. Would not a good local product favour his state more? I’m just playing devil’s advocate here but the most vocal advocates here for pokerstars, as stated, derive profit from pokerstars. I’m Australian and we have the dilemma here of na?ve politicians that have banned local on-line poker gaming operators and so players, en masse, are forced to use international sites rather than invest in a good fair local operator with effective governmental controls to ensure honesty and fairness.

      Is that possible? Not really. Politicians – particularly ones with ambitions for higher office than the one they’re currently in – aren’t usually concerned with things like what’s best for the consumers. They’re concerned with what benefits people who they need to lift them up. Christie isn’t looking out for poker players, or even trying to…..none of this has anything to do with that.

      While I think the idea of local operators is a nice one in some industries, it doesn’t really work well for online poker. Online poker, by it’s nature, is better as it gets bigger. PokerStars, PartyPoker, 888, etc. have invested hundreds of millions into their products – something a local operator in a single US state like New Jersey would never be able to invest. This is why all the other brands, including the local-sounding ones (i.e. Borgata) are partnered with major international online poker companies to provide their online poker experience. It’s also why many people who have the option of playing online in NJ are still finding ways to play on either the offshore US-facing sites or even international non-US facing sites like PokerStars. It’s just a better opportunity to play in a larger player pool.

      So while I do appreciate the general mindset here – that locally controlled products are typically good for consumers – it’s hard to really apply it in this case. And again, I certainly don’t think it’s Christie’s concern.

      If you haven’t read it: http://www.onlinepokerreport.com/15492/christie-pokerstars-adelson-faq/

    • I think it’s quite possible Adelson may have his own I-gaming venture he’s working on and is looking to hold up the others, especially Poker Stars, until his is ready to launch. He may be using this whole thing as a ruse to try and get a jump on the competition.

      The whole thing is bizarre. Why has he singled out PS for Christie to nix? Makes no sense to do that but allow others to operate. There needs to be a lot deeper investigation into their relationship. That smells bad.

      Adelson’s motive is likely that Pokerstars is a strong force int the online poker industry. The strongest force really. Pokerstars will bring stability to the industry in the US and has the resources to really make a positive impact on the industry nation wide. Right now online poker in the US is vulnerable. Adelson wants to defeat online poker. The numbers are not as strong as anyone projected. I dont think it is likely that he is doing it so that his own online venture can succeed. He has been way to vocal in opposition. Just my opinion.

    • I think it’s quite possible Adelson may have his own I-gaming venture he’s working on and is looking to hold up the others, especially Poker Stars, until his is ready to launch. He may be using this whole thing as a ruse to try and get a jump on the competition.

      The whole thing is bizarre. Why has he singled out PS for Christie to nix? Makes no sense to do that but allow others to operate. There needs to be a lot deeper investigation into their relationship. That smells bad.

      Pokerstars entering one US state means they will have foothold to show other states they can do it properly and generate REAL revenue for the state. Adelson is very afraid of that!

    • This article and ones like it should be posted everywhere. Corruption at its finest. Welcome to America.

      I only read the headline and was going to post almost the exact words. So +1