Poker Giants on The Hunt for an Online Gaming License

The Chicago Tribune reported Friday that a gambling expansion bill in Illinois may allow PokerStars, which was formerly accused of money laundering and fraud by federal prosecutors, to pursue an online gaming license in Illinois.

In the first draft of Senate Bill 1739, introduced by state Sen. Terry Link, D-Waukegan, PokerStars and sister company Full Tilt Poker would have been barred from obtaining an Internet gambling license in the state because they had “accepted wagers” in violation of U.S. law.

Last month, however, the bill was amended to read that companies had to be “convicted of accepting” wagers for a disqualification to be handed down.

According to the report, PokerStars settled these charges last year for $731 million.

“We admitted to no wrongdoing,” said Eric Hollreiser, a spokesman for PokerStars and Full Tilt. “And in the process of that, we were given the assets of our biggest competitor, Full Tilt Poker, by the Department of Justice. And the settlement states that nothing in the agreement should prevent us from applying for licenses in the U.S.”

Naturally, obtaining a license could mean significant revenue opportunities for the poker behemoth. reports that Americans spent $16 billion in 2010 on Internet-based poker sites outside the U.S.