PokerStars Succeeds in Blocking Subpoena

PokerStars Succeeds in Blocking Subpoena Served by Illinois Plaintiff to NJ Regulators

PokerStars’ parent company Rational Group successfully warded off Kelly Sonnenberg’s attempt to examine the documents submitted by PokerStars to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE). NJ U.S. District Court Judge Renee Bumb granted Rational Group’s motion to quash the subpoena served earlier this month by Sonnenberg to the NJDGE. The district court’s ruling was based on the merits of the “Protective Order Staying Discovery” previously granted by US Magistrate Judge Stephen Williams.

Inasmuch as Rational Group’s motion to dismiss the class action lawsuit filed by Kelly Sonnenberg is still awaiting resolution, Judge Williams had deemed it appropriate to avoid being burdened by “voluminous unnecessary discovery”. His 3-page ruling conveyed explanations that the stay discovery order is not against the act of discovery itself, but only in putting forward more issues or matters for consideration or discussion, when a motion is still pending settlement or resolution.

As a backgrounder, the class action lawsuit filed by Ms. Sonnenberg is in behalf of Illinois poker players seeking reimbursement of losses sustained at PokerStars, prior to the 2011 federal clamp down on online gambling sites. The lawsuit was filed on the strength of the “Illinois Loss Recovery Act”, which permits civil actions that seek recovery of losses amounting to $50 or more, if incurred in connection with illegal gambling activities.

Many agree with Rational Group that Ms. Sonnenberg was not entitled to the documents submitted by PokerStars to the NJDGE, yet there is no telling how the pending Illinois lawsuit could affect NJDGE’s assessment and approval of PokerStars’ license application to operate in Atlantic City.