PokerStars and Full Tilt acquired by Amaya Gaming in $4.9 billion deal

June 14th 2014 By Joshua Bell

Just days ago there were reports that the Amaya Gaming Group Inc. were in negotiations to buy the Rational Group (parent company of PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker). Those negotiations ultimately led to agreement for a $4.9 billion acquisition of all assets.

It has been suggested that this acquisition by the Amaya Gaming Group is the first step in a bid for PokerStars and Full Tilt to re-enter the US market after being forced out by the Justice Department following the events of “Black Friday” in 2011.

According to a press release issued by PokerStars: "Amaya believes the transaction will expedite the entry of PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker into regulated markets in which Amaya already holds a footprint, particularly the U.S. Additionally, Amaya will provide an extensive selection of its online casino games to expand the Full Tilt Poker casino platform. Amaya intends to strongly support Rational Group’s growth initiatives in new gaming verticals, including casino, sportsbook, and social gaming, and new geographies."

The Amaya Gaming Group is a Canadian company which primarily deals in creating and providing gaming equipment for casinos. According to their website, “some of the world’s largest and best known gaming operators and casinos are powered by Amaya’s online, mobile and land-based products.”

Not too long ago, Amaya acquired one of the largest online casino companies in “Cryptologic” and also purchased Ongame, one of the larger online poker opererators. Both of those purchases pale in comparison to the $4.9 billion acquisition of the Rational Group, adding both PokerStars and Full Tilt to their portfolio.

For those in the poker community who may believe this could mean PokerStars, the world’s favoured online poker provider, will change it's operations, the Rational Groups’s press release had this to say: "Rational Group’s executive management team will be retained and online poker services provided by PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker will be unaffected by the Transaction, with players continuing to enjoy uninterrupted access to their gaming experience."

However, the principle shareholders of the Oldford Group (Rational Group’s parent company), including PokerStars pioneers Isai and Mark Scheinberg, will, under the terms of the transaction, resign from all positions within the Oldford Group and it’s subsidiaries. Commentators on the matter have suggested this as a necessity if the Rational Group is ever to operate in the US again.

This transaction will supposedly see the Amaya Gaming Group become the world’s largest publicly-traded online company: “This is a transformative acquisition for Amaya, strengthening our core B2B operations with a consumer online powerhouse that creates a scalable global platform for growth,” said David Baazov, CEO of Amaya. “Mark Scheinberg pioneered the online poker industry, building a remarkable business and earning the trust of millions of poker players by delivering the industry’s best game experiences, customer service and online security. Working with the experienced executive team at Rational Group, Amaya will continue that tradition of excellence and accelerate growth into new markets and verticals.”

What this means to poker overall, and even poker in the Asia-Pacific remains to be seen, but it’s certainly a big moment in the poker world and could be looked back on as the first step in another poker boom of sorts. You can find the full press release and more detailed information by clicking here.

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