PokerStars lobbying for online gambling in New York

pokerstars-new-yorkIf the nominations for the 2013 Brazen Display of Chutzpah Awards aren’t yet closed, online poker titan PokerStars has proudly inscribed its name at the top of the ballot. Just weeks after the world learned that New Jersey had suspended its review of Stars’ online gambling license application for two years, comes word that Stars’ parent company Rational Group is apparently attempting an end-around by lobbying the state of New York to authorize intrastate online gambling.

On Monday, writer Jimmy Vielkind reported that a Stars-connected lobbyist met with a top official in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration in early November regarding the possibility of adding online gambling to the state’s brick-and-mortar casino plans. Just days earlier, state voters had approved a referendum on adding as many as seven commercial casinos to the state’s existing tribal-run casinos. Cozen O’Connor attorney Stuart Shorenstein apparently told Bennett Liebman, Cuomo’s chief advisor on gambling matters, that it was “a good time for an open architecture,” i.e. if you’re throwing open the gambling gates, why not open them all the way to include online gambling? A Cuomo spokesman subsequently stated that the governor had no position on Stars’ helpful suggestion.

Stars’ Empire State play is certainly audacious, given that the indictments filed against the company and founder Isai Scheinberg on Black Friday originated with the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York (SDNY). Then again, Rational recently announced that it had hired Michael Mukasey to help resolve its SDNY woes. In addition to being a former US Attorney General, Mukasey also served as the Chief Judge of the SDNY for six years. Tune in tomorrow, when Stars announces it has enlisted soon-to-be ex-mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg to really get the ball rolling.