Thursday October 01,2015 : POKERSTARS AND FULL TILT DEBUT IN NEW JERSEY IMMINENT?
Parent Amaya will waste little time in going operational after award of transactional waiver by DGE.
The news late Wednesday that Amaya Inc. has at last been given the green light to operate in the New Jersey online gambling market by the Division of Gaming Enforcement has observers speculating on how soon the company's Pokerstars and Full Tilt brands, partnered by local Atlantic City land operator Resorts Casino Hotel, will be up and running.
The consensus appears to be that Amaya will waste little time in gearing up and entering the market, creating a major impact with its respected capability in marketing, tournament action and promotional activity.
Between them, Pokerstars and Full Tilt have around 95 million registered players.
Intrastate legalised Internet gambling launched in New Jersey in November 2013 and has been delivering slow but steady progress in revenue terms.
Last year the state's online operations generated $122 million, a figure that will be overtaken this year, judging by business to end August, which is already at $96.7 million, an increase of around 15.6 percent y-o-y.
The award of a transactional waiver to Amaya by the DGE was widely reported following a public statement from the Montreal-based group.
CEO David Baazov said the group was obviously pleased to secure the regulator's approval and to add New Jersey to the list of regulated markets that have found PokerStars and Full Tilt suitable to offer real-money online gambling.
He noted that New Jersey gaming regulators have a long history of stringent regulatory oversight and enforcement of gaming operations.
"The DGE's review of PokerStars was extremely thorough and exhaustive, including a detailed review of Amaya's operations and technology, sworn interviews with more than 70 individuals and visits to approximately a half dozen international jurisdictions," Baazov revealed.
"This stringent review found PokerStars to be under strong, ethical and trusted ownership and management with Amaya, and worthy of participating in New Jersey's regulated online gaming market."
"Since the acquisition [of Pokerstars' parent The Rational Group], we have consistently delivered on our stated strategy," Baazov continued.
"Today's announcement follows the divesture of our B2B businesses for total gross proceeds of approximately US$524.8 million; the launch of casino games on PokerStars, which we estimate has one of the largest active user bases of any online casino; the refinancing of our long term debt and the reduction of our annual interest expense by approximately US$62 million. We are excited about our new product pipeline and enthusiastic that we will experience growth in existing and emerging markets in the future."
The transactional waiver will allow Amaya, which has been a business-to-business supplier in good standing for some time, to become a business-to-consumer and deal directly with players.
The company reportedly addressed Pokerstars’ troubled past head-on by pointing out that its settlement “never precluded the Pokerstars companies from offering real-money online poker in the US once permissible under relevant law,” (as is the case in New Jersey.)
The company also pointed out that many other companies that entered into settlements with Department of Justice over business practices, such as Citicorp and JPMorgan, have paid their penalties without facing limitations or restrictions on company assets.
Long before Amaya acquired the company, Pokerstars had the New Jersey market in its sights; the company initially negotiated a partnership with the now shuttered Atlantic Club land operator. That rather expensively fell through when Atlantic Club backed out of the deal on a contractual loophole associated with Pokerstars' inability to secure a DGE licence within a stipulated timeframe.
Pokerstars then inked an online gambling partnership agreement with Resorts Casino Hotel subsidiary Resorts Digital, again contingent on it securing licensing. That has proved to be an exhaustive and lengthy process since 2013 as the regulator considered the company's management history in the United States and the circumstances surrounding Amaya's acquisition of The Rational Group in order to be sure that there is no longer any involvement of Rational's former owners.
Whilst the DGE licence process evolved, Resorts launched online gambling earlier this year with Sportech – NYX Gaming LLC
InfoPowa readers will recall that in the wake of Black Friday Pokerstars paid a $547 million settlement to the DOJ regarding its past activity in the USA without making any admission of wrongdoing, and additionally handed over around $231 million for distribution to owed Full Tilt players when it acquired that failed enterprise.
Early reports on the latest developments include the news that Amaya will put about $400,000 into a trust account with New Jersey for unrecovered funds left from former New Jersey players should they wish to submit claims.
The Canadian group has also founded a direct, wholly owned subsidiary to operate in New Jersey, titled Amaya NJ.
Amaya recently diversified into the booming daily fantasy sports vertical, acquiring an established operator and rebranding the company StarsDraft.