Amaya Gaming Group Acquires PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker in Unprecedented Online Gaming Purchase

06/17/2014 - Things might be coming up roses for PokerStars and Full Tilt online poker brands, two of the biggest names in the industry that have gotten the cold shoulder in regulated online poker jurisdictions in the United States. A deal was reached between Amaya Gaming Group, Inc and Oldford Group Limited (which is the parent complain of the Rational Group) with a purchase price of $4.9 billion. These two poker brands are the largest online poker sites in operation, with a combined player base of 85 million registered online and mobile players. Amaya intends to focus heavily on growth initiatives for both brands and has already discussed using their powerful resources to accomplish this.

Amaya Gaming Group executives have indicated that they see this acquisition as a means to expedite the return of the two poker brands to the US market within the newly established state regulated gambling industries, building on the existing footprint that Amaya already has secured in regulated markets worldwide. They have already announced that the Rational Group's executive management team will be retained. This transaction will render Amaya as the world largest publicly traded company within the online gambling industry. The move will not affect existing player accounts or the services being currently being offered to players. It will be a seamless transition from a player standpoint.

This deal also bodes well for California's online poker discussions, particularly where the bad actor clause is concerned. One of the holdups in securing full support from the state's Indian tribes has been the fact that several of the most prominent tribes had already struck a deal with PokerStars, a brand that was being rendered not eligible to participate in the proposed California online poker initiative due to the 'bad actor' language in the proposed legislation. This affects the brand due to the Black Friday events of 2011 in which PokerStars was seized and investigated by the DOJ on suspicion of violating the UIGEA law. Now that things have been resolved in that case, and the brand is now going to be owned by a corporation that enjoys a healthy presence in the US regulated online gambling arena, it may just be the bridge that brings PokerStars and FullTilt back to American players.

Polls indicate that players welcome PokerStars back to the table, and consider them to be one of the top rated online poker experiences. While they may become a potential provider to players who live in the few states that have already legalized online poker, it is not likely that US players in the other majority of states will have access to any real money legal gambling sites with them or with Full Tilt. The PPA is ready to welcome them back with open arms as representative John Pappas expressed in his statement where he indicated that the fact that Amaya wanted to purchase the two poker businesses should eliminate any negative perception of the brands. The deal was announced in a press release issued this past Thursday.