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Found 5 results

  1. Just three months ago, almost no one would have predicted that the relatively unknown gaming systems supplier Amayawas in advanced talks to purchase the parent company of the online poker behemoth PokerStars. Yet on Friday, the Canadian firm announced the completion of its acquisition of PokerStars and Full Tilt, instantly transforming it into the biggest publicly traded online gambling company on the globe. --- PocketFives' news coverage is brought to you by Betsafe, one of the leading suppliers of online gaming products worldwide and a major sponsor of Gumball 3000. Sign up now for great bonuses, €3,000,000 guaranteed monthly, and plenty of live events! --- "We are extremely pleased to have completed this acquisition," said Amaya CEO David Baazov in a press release. "Through PokerStars, Full Tilt, and its multiple live poker tours and events, [Rational Group]brands comprise the world's largest poker business, generating diversified and recurring revenues across the globe from its extremely loyal customer base." Amaya's shareholders voted in favor of the deal earlier this week. The purchase was completed in an all-cash $4.9 billion transaction and includes the PokerStars and Full Tilt brands along with the popular European, Latin American, and Asian Pacific Poker Tour events. The company's poker sites are two of the largest in the world and have dealt over 100 billion poker hands and run over 800 million tournaments, according to the release. "Since launching PokerStars in 2001, we have grown the business each year thanks to constant innovation, unparalleled customer service, and the talent of our dedicated workforce," said PokerStars CEO Mark Scheinberg. "I'm confident that Amaya, together with Rational Group's leadership, will continue to successfully grow the business into the future." The transfer of ownership out of the hands of Mark and his father, Isai Scheinberg (pictured), is considered by many analysts to be the motivating factor behind the sale. On Black Friday, the elder Scheinberg was charged by the US Department of Justice with a bevy of offenses including violating the UIGEA, operating an illegal gambling business, and money laundering. The father and son's continual involvement in the company has already led to issues with PokerStars reentering the potentially lucrative regulated US gambling market. The sale to Amaya could potentially solve both of these problems. For one, the new company leadership would be untainted by Black Friday and, furthermore, the cash raised from the deal could be used for a settlement between Isai and the DOJ. That amount would likely be massive. In 2008, former PartyPoker CEO Anurag Dikshit handed over $300 million to the agency and sold his stake in Party Gaming, while Mark Scheinberg settled for $50 million last year. Insiders have said that one of Mark Scheinberg's final goals for the company was to see PokerStars reenter the US market. So far, though, the site has been blocked at every turn, first after an ill-fated agreement to buy the Atlantic Cluband later when New Jersey regulators suspended their review for two years. But with the transfer to Amaya, that vision might finally be turning into a reality. With the sale complete, many believe it's only a matter of time before New Jersey regulators give PokerStars the green light to open up shop in the state. In California, the company is making inroads as well, but is engaged in a fierce battle against a coalition of tribes who would rather not face the competition that a brand like PokerStars will surely bring. In April, the Rational Group announced a partnership with the Morongo Band of Mission Indians and three large card clubs in its effort to begin operating in the populous state. As part of its lobbying strategy, PokerStars has continually highlights the fact that it holds more online poker licenses than any other i-gaming company on the planet. And according to the release, "works closely with regulators around the world to help establish sensible global regulation." Stay tuned to PocketFives for the latest on the PokerStars sale. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  2. On Thursday, Amaya Gaming purchased the parent company of PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, the Rational Group, for $4.9 billion. The deal is expected to close in September and will make Amaya the largest publicly held internet gambling company on the face of the Earth. The question many players have been wondering is how fast we can expect to see PokerStarsand/or Full Tilt Poker reenter a regulated market in the US. According to longtime industry insider Joe Brennan, don't expect to see PokerStars back in the US immediately. Brennan told PocketFives on Friday, "This transaction, if it goes through, doesn't automatically bring PokerStars back to the US. The deal is likely to draw huge regulatory scrutiny and there's no doubt that Stars' foes - like Caesars - will double down on their efforts to have 'bad actor' clauses included and broadened in any US iGaming legislation." Amaya could face quite a hurdle in California, for example, where "intellectual property such as brands and software connected to online bets taken from the US market after December 31, 2006" are subject to "bad actor" ramifications, according to Online Poker Report. In New Jersey, Amaya is licensed and several internet gambling sites are up and running, so how PokerStars would ultimately break into the market, if at all, isn't clear. On the subject of New Jersey, eGaming Review published an article on Friday that explained, "Even if [Amaya and PokerStars] were to double the number of internet poker players in the Garden State, based on May's revenues, total poker rake would be around $5 million. While the increase would be welcome, it's far from being a game-changer. And what if PokerStars doesn't grow the market, but takes share away from those operators already live and struggling to turn a profit from their online operations?" Brennan also told PocketFives he believes "Amaya is getting PokerStars on the cheap." He rationalized, "PokerStars has over $1 billion in revenue and $420 million in EBIDTA. The multiple they're getting on that is extremely low. Consider that Uber, with revenue of $213 million, was just valued at $18 billion." Amaya purchased the Rational Group for 11x EBIDTA, which, according to eGaming Review, is "above the industry average, but still in line with the multiple paid by William Hill for Playtech's share of the William Hill Online joint venture last year." Therefore, in the online gambling world, 11x EBIDTA could be considered "fair" value. The deal is still subject to Amaya shareholder approval. According to Bloomberg, PokerStars CEO Mark Scheinberg, who will exit the company after the transaction is completed, owns 75% of the Rational Group. Moreover, the same article revealed that Rational "has no debt" to speak of. Scheinberg settled with the US DOJ one year ago. On Thursday, the Poker Players Alliance called the sale "encouraging news for millions of American players." We'll continue to keep you posted on the latest. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  3. On Friday, we'd expect to hear news that Canadian-based Amaya Gaming will be purchasing the parent company of PokerStarsand Full Tilt Poker, the Isle of Man-based Rational Group. Blackstone, a US-based private equity firm, is reportedly raising $1 billion for the acquisition. All of this is according to Online Poker Report, Bloomberg, and our own sources. Amaya is already licensed in New Jersey, although whether it would bring the PokerStars or Full Tilt brands to the Garden State remains to be seen. According to 4Flush, a reverse takeover is planned. While Amaya is green-lighted in New Jersey, the license review for PokerStars was suspended for two years. The rationale: "The unresolved Federal indictment against Isai Scheinberg for the alleged violation of Federal gambling statutes, namely, the Illegal Gambling Business Act and the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, and the involvement of certain PokerStars executives with internet gaming operations in the United States following the enactment of UIGEA." Trading of Amaya's stock in Toronto came to a halt midway through the day on Thursday after it had shot up 28% in two days and 17% on Thursday morning alone. In 2014, Amaya's stock is up 75%. It traded under $6 a share as recently as April and is currently at $14. The true value of PokerStars remains to be seen, as according to Online Poker Report, being acquired by Amaya doesn't automatically mean PokerStars will roll out in every state with legalized online gambling: "It's difficult to see the straight line between this deal and PokerStars' return to the American online poker market. For example, proposed legislation in California excludes not only operators, but also intellectual property such as brands and software connected to online bets taken from the US market after December 31, 2006." Many of the contacts PocketFives has spoken to have affirmed that a deal is on its way, and Bloomberg said an announcement could have come as soon as Thursday, although that didn't come to fruition. We'll keep you posted on Friday right here on PocketFives. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  4. On Wednesday, shareholders of Amaya Gaming approved the acquisition of the Rational Group, the parent company of PokerStarsand Full Tilt. Following the go-ahead from shareholders, Amaya Chairman and CEO David Baazov commented, "On behalf of the Board of Directors, I wish to extend my appreciation to shareholders for their overwhelming support of the acquisition of Rational Group." --- PocketFives' news coverage is brought to you by Betsson Poker, a leading global online gaming provider. Betsson Poker is available on Mobile and offers regular promotions to live events around the world along with great bonuses and competitions. Play nowfor a chance to win the a Dream Holiday with the Grand Poker Adventures throughout 2014! --- Amaya is buying the Rational Group for $4.9 billionin a deal that was announced in mid-June. Under its terms, Mark Scheinberg, Rational's founder and CEO, and "other principles of Oldford Group" will resign. Oldford is the parent company of Rational. Besides getting the green light from shareholders, Amaya has also received "all required approvals from the gaming regulatory authorities that currently license Rational Group," according to a press release sent out on Tuesday. Now, with Amaya's shareholders approving the deal, the gaming company plans "to move expeditiously towards completion of the transaction." Amaya's stock, which is traded in Toronto, reached a 52-week high in recent days, capitalizing on the momentum of the deal. Its stock, which can be found under the symbol "AYA", was fetching $29.09 CAD per share when we checked in on it on Thursday, about $1.50 off its 52-week high of $30.67. In the past 52 weeks, shares of AYA have been trading in a relatively wide range of $5.61 to $30.67 CAD. According to Yahoo, Amaya has a market cap of $2.74 billion, about half of the price tag it paid for Amaya. As outlined in the Financial Post, analysts from Global Maxfin Capital raised their target price for Amaya's stock from $30 to $35 CAD. According to the Globe and Mail, "The new combined company would have had $1.3 billion in sales and $474.8 million in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation." One of the stickiest points of the Rational Group purchase is Amaya assuming a mound of debt in order to acquire a company that's much larger. In order to finance the deal, according to the Globe and Mail, Amaya had to take on $2.9 billion in debt, so it was thought that convincing shareholders to do so could be a bit of a challenge. At the Borgata PocketFives Open this week in Atlantic City, much of the talk centered on PokerStars and/or Full Tilt reentering the US market in New Jersey. Reportedly, the two sites are just a handful of months away from launching in New Jersey and will partner with Resorts Atlantic City. Check out our New Jersey poker community to see what else Garden State players are discussing. Stay tuned to PocketFives for the latest on the acquisition of PokerStars. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  5. On Thursday, Amaya Gaming made the stunning announcement that it would acquire PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and parent company Rational Group in a $4.9 billion deal. With the exception of a few rumors, the agreement came virtually out of the blue, and many found it hard to believe that the Canadian firm would be able to put up enough cash for such a large transaction. But now that the deal has been announced, poker players in the US have turned to the forums in force, expressing their thoughts on the ramifications of the massive sale. Upon hearing the news, many players were excited for the implications of the acquisition. According to one PocketFives poster, the buzz was palpable in New Jersey. "This is all they were talking about at my table yesterday in Borgata. Excited is an understatement," he said. John Pappas, Executive Director of the Poker Players Alliance, released a similarly enthusiastic statement, saying, "Amaya's acquisition should remove any perceived impediment for this popular brand to once again be available to players in regulated US jurisdictions." As part of the deal, Isai Scheinberg and CEO Mark Scheinbergwill cut ties completely with PokerStars, clearing up a major sticking point that US regulators had with the company. "This purchase is some of the best news for online poker players in a long time, imo," said PokerXanadu on TwoPlusTwo. "The market leader now has a much clearer path to entry in the US market and will be a strong force toward authorizing legislation and cross-jurisdictional pooling." But some players were skeptical that site would continue down the same path without its founders. "The Scheinbergs made PokerStars - if they're out, then it doesn't necessarily mean that PokerStars will remain the same company that we all like and respect," said poster Sciolist. Others saw the sale as a big blow to the online gaming opposition in the US. In a response to a comment regarding Sheldon Adelson's (pictured) crusade against the industry, poster Willyoman highlighted some of Amaya's big-name backers, including Deutsche Bank, Barclays, and Blackstone. "I feel pretty good (huge understatement) about seeing some of the world's most respected and well capitalized financial firms placing fairly large bets on online poker," he said. "I think this is the best news since Black Friday." A Twitter comment by Justin ZeeJustinBonomo brought to light the fact that PokerStars' sale to Amaya is not a slam-dunk for the popular brand's reentry into the US. Asking his followers to "speculate wildly" on what the sale could mean, industry analyst Chris Grove chimed in, saying, "Very little." Expanding on his answer, Grove brought up the fact that much of the legislation proposed in states considering legalizing iGaming includes "bad actor" language. "In NJ, maybe. Other states are looking at much broader approach to bad actor that sale won't solve," he said. "For example, CA bill as proposed would prohibit Stars software / brand / db no matter who owns it." Amaya CEO David Baazov stated that the deal has reportedly been in the works for close to a year. The transaction is expected to close in September of this year and will give Amaya control of not only the two poker brands, but also popular events like the European Poker Tour, PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, and Latin American Poker Tour. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
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