The persistent rumor that Canadian Gaming Group Amaya is in acquisition negotiations to purchase Rational Group including its PokerStars website is now a fully confirmed report. Both Amaya and the Rational Group finally came around to admitting that the PokerStars parent company has been acquired by Amaya, in exchange for CA$4.9 billion in cash.
Last week, the Canadian gaming company initially tried to suppress the premature reports about the transaction so as not to influence the trading activities for the company’s stocks at the Toronto Stocks Exchange (TSX). Apparently, Amaya’s attempt to downplay the reports did not have any effect as the rumors continued to spur share price increases of up to 28.7 percent. Subsequently thereafter, trading of the Montreal-based company’s stocks was halted last Thursday. This was after two days of continuous trading that caused Amaya’s share price to rise at a 52-week high of CA$14.17. Coming from a 52 week-low of CA$5.61, the gaming company’s price per share closed at CA$14.08.
The acquisition being official, Amaya now has attained status as the world’s largest publicly traded iGaming company. The deal entails combining Rational Group’s business to consumer (B2C) online and live poker business with Amaya’s business to business (B2B) online and land-based gaming products, technologies and services for casinos and lottery corporations. The deal involves the 100 percent acquisition of the Oldford Group Limited, the Rational Group’s holding company, denoting therefore that all Oldford shareholders, including PokerStars CEO Mark Scheinberg will leave their positions at Oldford and its subsidiaries. CEO Scheinberg who owns 75 percent of the Rational Group signed the agreement. Technically, Mark Scheinberg is now a billionaire.
In light of the previous and current setbacks encountered by the Rational Group in its bid to re-enter the U.S. online gambling market, it would be easy to assume that Mark Scheinberg finally folded from the pressure of having to run a company that has been beleaguered by the effects of the April 2011 Black Friday indictments. Mark’s father and original PokerStars founder Isa Scheiberg is still facing the charges filed against him by the U.S. Justice Department, which remains as a blight to PokerStars’ unchallenged reputation as the world’s largest and most reliable online poker facility.
Last year, Rational Group’s bid to secure an online gambling license in New Jersey’s nascent Internet gambling industry did not produce any fruitful results. It was in fact riddled with impediments, including the botched Atlantic Club Casino purchase deal that cost Rational Group $11 million dollars, representing the defaulted down payment handed over to Atlantic Club. As the legalization of online poker in the State of California is finally making progress, PokerStars bid to join the Golden State’s future remote gambling arena is again being met with strong opposition coming from 13 California Native American tribes. It is likely that the poker company will again be disqualified, as the State of California is expected to include the “bad actor” clause similarly instituted by Nevada. The clause automatically bars those that had previous run-ins with the U.S. Justice Department, for violating the country’s Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA).
Under the Amaya Gaming Group, PokerStars has a greater chance of becoming legally available to U.S. poker players, since the Canadian company has approved licenses to operate and supply its technologies, products and services in the states of Nevada and New Jersey.