As an eventful year draws to an end, we are saddened by the news that the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel in Atlantic City will be closed in the coming weeks after being sold through a bankruptcy court auction.
It's always sad when hard-working people lose their jobs, especially during the holiday season. This is particularly sad, though, because it simply didn't have to happen.
At this time last year, PokerStars reached an agreement that would secure a new future for the casino, save the jobs of 1,800 employees and inject new blood, new technology and new finances into the Atlantic City casino economy.
It was a leap of faith and commitment of significant investment for PokerStars to do this considering there was not yet an online bill in New Jersey and we faced a challenging regulatory approval process. Nevertheless, in good faith we immediately began funding the Atlantic Club operations, which provided the current owners with a lifeline and secured jobs in the dark days following Hurricane Sandy and the seasonally slow winter months.
As spring approached, the economic prospects for the Atlantic Club appeared to brighten even more with the newly-enacted iGaming legislation and the promise of summer tourism business on the horizon. That's when the casino's then-owners gambled with their employees' future. In hopes that the improved economic picture could lead to more rewards for them they walked away from our contract rather than wait another few months for the regulatory approval process to be completed.
Now, the Atlantic Club will be stripped for parts and its employees will be put out onto the boardwalk in search of new jobs in 2014.
We continue to share the vision that online gaming will be a boon for New Jersey. Unfortunately, PokerStars is no longer in a position to help the Atlantic Club employees and the local economy in general. The continued delays in our regulatory review prevent us from entering the market at this time and bringing the marketing and operational investment we have planned for the past year. Those investments included establishing a U.S. office in NJ which would employ 250-300 people in the first two years and launching extensive marketing programs to energize our loyal customer base in the area and grow the online gaming market in the state.
We've delivered on similar commitments in newly licensed markets around the world and these investments and management practices established us as an industry leader and we've been recognized as a Great Place to Work in 2012 and 2013.
PokerStars does not share the vulture-like management practices that led to the coming job losses and disappointment of thousands of people in New Jersey with the closure of the Atlantic Club. Instead, PokerStars will continue to pursue our goals and remain confident that we will have a strong presence and positive economic impact in the American market in 2014, whether that is in New Jersey or another state seeking the benefits of being home to a world-class online gaming company.
Eric Hollreiser is Head of Corporate Communications for PokerStars.