888 Holdings CEO: Let PokerStars enter U.S. market

888 gamblingLas Vegas Review Journal – The chief executive of European online gaming giant 888 Holdings said Wednesday that rival PokerStars should be allowed to operate in the United States now that the company is being sold for $4.9 billion to a Canadian Internet wagering firm.

The comments by 888 CEO Brian Mattingley differ dramatically from online industry rivals and various state lawmakers, who have moved to ban PokerStars from entering legal U.S. gaming jurisdictions.

PokerStars, which forfeited $731 million to federal prosecutors in 2012 to settle a civil complaint, accepted online wagers from Americans after the activity was ruled illegal in 2006.

Mattingley, whose Gibraltar-based company is partners with Caesars Interactive Entertainment in legal online gaming websites in Nevada and New Jersey, said adding PokerStars into the mix would grow the U.S. Internet market. Actual Internet gaming revenues reported by Nevada — less than $1 million a month — and New Jersey have fallen far below lofty projections.

“We compete with PokerStars throughout Europe,” Mattingley said in a phone interview from London. “They are a formidable competitor. But they would make all of us work much harder and it would expand the market. I would much rather have a small slice of a large pie, than a big piece of a small pie.”

Mattingley said Nevada’s three online poker operations and the six Atlantic City casinos that currently handle New Jersey’s online gaming business, suffer because U.S. customers still access illegal and unregulated online gaming websites.

‘It would be like unleashing an 800-pound gorilla into the market, but having more players on a regulated site would benefit everyone,” Mattingley said.

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