Amaya Acquisition Could Signal Return of PokerStars in the US

Amaya Acquisition Could Signal Return of PokerStars in the USThe Amaya Gaming Group´s purchase of the Oldford Group Ltd – the parent company of Rational Enterprises – could signal the return of PokerStars in the US.

Rumors that the Canadian Amaya Gaming Group is planning to buy the company that owns PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker were confirmed last night, when a joint statement was released giving details of the proposed purchase and advanced notice of a conference call to be conducted later today.

The statement revealed that Amaya – who already own the Ongame Poker Network and online casino company Cryptologic – have entered into an agreement to purchase Oldford Group – the parent company of Rational Enterprises, who in turn own PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker – for $4.9 billion.

The deal already has the support of both company´s boards – and a $50 million deposit has already been paid – but is subject to approval by Amaya shareholder´s. An email will be distributed to shareholders within the coming days, and Amaya will be hosting a conference call and webcast presentation with further information about the acquisition of the Oldford Group this morning (June 13, 2014) at 8:30am ET – early risers can follow the conference call on the newswire website.

Amaya to Become Biggest Online Gaming Company

If the acquisition goes through, the Amaya Gaming Group would become the largest publicly traded i-gaming company in the world; and while it will end the involvement of the Scheinberg family with PokerStars, Amaya has indicated that the management team at Rational Enterprises and the company´s 1,700 employees will remain in place to ensure a seamless transition.

Players on PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker should notice no difference in their playing experience and it is unlikely that Amaya will integrate the two sites with their existing Ongame Network. Rational Group founder and CEO Mark Scheinberg commented in the press release that David Baazov (Amaya´s CEO) has a strong vision for the future of the Rational Group – implying that it will be kept as a separate unit from the remainder of the Amaya Group´s operations.

Press Release Indicates PokerStars Return to the US

The wording of the press release indicates that the Amaya Group intends to re-introduce PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker to the US online poker market at the earliest possible opportunity. Amaya is already a licensed platform holder in New Jersey and the company believes that the acquisition of the Rational Group will expedite the entry of PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker into regulated markets in which Amaya already holds a footprint.

Currently, PokerStars has an agreement in place to provide online poker in New Jersey for the Resorts Casino, but their license application was suspended by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement due to an outstanding federal indictment against Isai Scheinberg for the alleged violation of UIGEA. With the Scheinberg family no longer being involved in the operations of PokerStars, New Jersey´s regulators will be keen to start talking again with PokerStars – especially considering the lower-than-anticipated revenues being generated by online poker in New Jersey.

Still a Battle to be Fought in California

Elsewhere in the States, PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker are likely to be included or excluded from providing online poker in the US depending on how the language relating to bad actor clauses is interpreted. In California for example, the language of the proposed legislation introduced by a coalition of tribes calls not only for bad actor operators to be excluded from operating online poker in California, but also for brands and software that were used in the US market after December 2006 to be banned as well.

PokerStars has already [geolink href=””]publicly opposed the proposed Californian Tribes iPoker Bill[/geolink], and now their attempts to enter the largest i-gaming market in the US will have the support of the largest publicly traded i-gaming company in the world. However, with most of the Californian Tribes opposed to PokerStars re-entry into the Californian market for economic reasons (PokerStars being too big a company for them to compete against) the new ownership of the company is unlikely to produce a similar result as is expected in New Jersey.

Jacqueline Packett
Jacqueline Packett