David Baazov’s Amaya Gaming Agrees to Buy PokerStars for $4.9 Billion
Online Poker used to be very big in the United States a few years ago, till the US Department of Justice went after it in 2011 on the basis that it was just another form of illegal gambling. Israeli born Canadian, and former IBM tech guru who worked on developing Unicode, Isai Scheinberg, the founder of PokerStars was even indicted on criminal charges and has had to make sure he doesn’t enter, or fly over, the United States since.
In the interim, there have recently been moves afoot to gradually bring about online gambling in the US again, this time on a state by state-sanctioned basis. The civil charges against PokerStars and FullTilt, which have since merged, were dropped though personal criminal charges against Isai Scheinberg remain outstanding.
Now a small Canadian gaming equipment company, listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange, the Amaya Gaming Group has announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to buy Pokerstars and Full Tilt from the privately held Oldford Group which, through another intermediate vehicle the Rational Group Ltd, is the ultimate parent company and operator of both PokerStars and Full Tilt.
One apparent benefit of this change of ownership will obviously be to help make things fly better for the business in the US moving forward, and take Rational founder Mark Scheinberg and his father Isai Scheinberg completely out of the picture, Oldford’s controlling shareholders, and out of the gun sights of regulators there.
Amaya currently has a market capitalisation itself of just over US$1 billion (CAD$1.13 billion). This is therefore very much a case of David taking on Goliath, as Amaya has agreed to pay US$4.9 billion in cash for the acquisition.
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