In what may have been the worst kept secret in the online betting world, Canadian betting firm Amaya Gaming has formally announced that it will purchase PokerStars for a whopping $4.9 billion.
The announcement was made late last Thursday by both groups after stock trading hours had ended. PokerStars hails more than 85 million poker players registered to its site worldwide, and brought in an estimated $420 million in adjusted earnings after tax last year. The group is believed to be debt free, adding to the value of a potential acquisition deal.
The big winner of the deal is PokerStars Founder Isai Scheinberg, who reportedly owns 75% of the The Rational Group, which in turn owns PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker. Scheinberg is currently under indictment from the US government for accepting American players after the UIGEA was passed into law in 2006. Scheinberg denies the charges, but financial consequences have reared their ugly head for the poker firm as PokerStars tries to expand into the regulated US market.
Amaya CEO David Baazov said that he believes that individual states will look at PokerStars gaming applications differently as they move forward, citing the new ownership as the main reason. “Amaya is licensed in many jurisdictions, over 80 worldwide," Baazov said. "This will be worked out on a state-by-state basis.”
Commenting on the deal Isai's son and partner Mark Scheinberg said, “I am incredibly proud of the business Isai and I have built over the last 14 years, creating the world’s biggest poker company and a leader in the iGaming space. Our achievements and this transaction are an affirmation of the hard work, expertise and dedication of our staff, which I am confident will continue to drive the company’s success.”