PokerStars’ troubled bid to purchase the Atlantic Club Casino may not be dead just yet. Yesterday afternoon a New Jersey judge granted a temporary restraining order keeping the casino owners, Colony Capital, from pulling out of the deal.

After PokerStars missed a licensing deadline last week, Colony backed away from the $15-$20 million deal. That left PokerStars not only on the hook for the $11 million they’d already sunk into the dilapidated property, it also left them without a toehold in the potentially lucrative Jersey online gaming market.

While New Jersey lawmakers welcome anyone who’s willing to help restore Atlantic City, the American Gaming Association (AGA) was openly hostile to the deal.

PokerStars earns the AGA’s ire for doing business with Americans after the Federal government banned online gambling back in 2006.  In a highly unusual move, AGA lawyers filed a brief aimed at blocking the Atlantic Club purchase and accusing the poker giant of engaging in, “criminal activities.”

In a statement released yesterday Rational Group, PokerStars’ corporate parent, said:

The Rational Group remains entirely committed to resolving this situation, and to its investment in New Jersey, while it continues to diligently work on completing the required licensing process.

Besides the investment they’ve already made in New Jersey, the Garden State represents PokerStars’ best shot at cracking the US market. It’s generally assumed that the company’s post-2006 activities could make getting a gaming license in Nevada difficult.

Expect this battle to drag on for the foreseeable future.

Should PokerStars be allowed to operate in New Jersey? Share your opinion in the comments section below.

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