New Jersey Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, chairman of the Assembly’s Tourism, Gaming and Arts Committee, has launched a scathing public attack on PokerStars.

Caputo, who recently sponsored a bill to expand New Jersey’s casinos beyond Atlantic City, wrote in an editorial for the Star-Ledger that “the disgraced online gambling giant” should be barred from receiving a licence in New Jersey.

He wrote that the company will apply for licensing approval under the umbrella of Amaya Gaming Group, which “recently purchased PokerStars for $4.9 billion and is now reapplying with the state Division of Gaming Enforcement in an effort to jump into New Jersey’s burgeoning internet gambling industry”.

“And while PokerStars has a history of bad behavior — behavior that resulted in the indictment of its former chief executive officer and owner and another high-ranking executive — the state is once again debating whether the firm has a place in Atlantic City,” he wrote.

Caputo criticises the fact that PokerStars will not be subject to any form of public hearing - although his own critics highlight his support for ending such hearings – and he urges the Division of Gaming Enforcement to “not rush to usher in a firm with a tainted past simply to bolster the faltering online gambling experiment”.

For its part, PokerStars has always denied any wrongdoing and argued that it should be left up to the relevant regulatory authority in each jurisdiction to reach a decision on the company’s suitability for licensing. It has described efforts to pre-judge the company and circumvent the normal regulatory process as anti-competitive.

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