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August 29, 2014

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New Jersey starts review of PokerStars buyer

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AP Photo/Wayne Parry

A computer screen in Atlantic City displays the home page of the PokerStars website, Dec. 11, 2013.

ATLANTIC CITY — New Jersey casino regulators have begun their review of a Canadian company that's buying the PokerStars online gambling website and hoping to get it licensed in Atlantic City by this fall.

The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement says Amaya Gaming Group has begun submitting documents required for a determination on whether PokerStars can be licensed in New Jersey.

PokerStars is the world's largest online poker site. Amaya met last week with division officials, who voiced optimism that Amaya could get approval for PokerStars to join New Jersey's Internet gambling market by this fall.

The division told the Associated Press on Tuesday that it will review Amaya's proposed corporate structure for the acquisition, a list of executive and management personnel, and the technical aspects of the PokerStars platform to make sure it meets regulatory standards.

PokerStars tried twice last year to get 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 U.S. government made it illegal to take payments in connection with illegal gambling through the Internet will 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 in Atlantic City but that deal fell apart and the casino shut down in January.

PokerStars then partnered with Resorts Casino Hotel, which has been unable to offer Internet gambling while PokerStars was under suspension in New Jersey. Resorts announced partnerships last week with two European firms to complement PokerStars and FullTilt Poker, and plans to have all four offerings up and running by this fall.

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