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New Jersey Regulator Releases PokerStars Report

This week the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement released a report regarding gambling firm Pokerstars and their parent company Amaya Inc., detailing why they issued an e-Gaming license to the group.

Earlier this month New Jersey granted Amaya a transactional waiver that allows the group to provide cyber betting services while they are awaiting full approval for their gaming license. Thus far the company has partnered up with the Resorts Casino Hotel, and will be launching its poker games in the near future.

The report is 89 pages in length and details the various actions that Amaya has undertaken to rid itself of bad actors who caused Pokerstars to operate illegally in the United States from 2006 through 2011 under the ownership of the Rational Group.

Highlights in the report were:

  • Detailed reviews of 45,000 business documents for the period 2008 to the present relating to Amaya and Pokerstars were conducted, assisted by the group's independent auditors;

  • Investigators travelled to Montreal, Toronto, Dublin, the Isle of Man and the United Kingdom to ensure that past owners, management and practices were "purged" from the PokerStars operation;

  • The DGE enquiries extended to the enquiries of the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) in Quebec, which investigated activity around trading of Amaya's stock after the company acquired Pokerstars (see previous InfoPowa report). The regulator notes that the AMF enquiry has not resulted in any proceedings or charges, and that Amaya has consistently assured that it has done nothing wrong. The DGE continues to monitor the AMF enquiry;

  • Investigators interviewed and took sworn statements from 63 former Pokerstars, Full Tilt, and Pyr (now Amaya's software arm) employees still with the group;

  • Investigators reported that Pokerstars generated $44.3 million in revenue in New Jersey from October 2006 until Black Friday in April 2011. The company subsequently returned $5 million to New Jersey players after the Black Friday shutdowns, with just short of half-a-million dollars still unclaimed;

  • Amaya has withdrawn from 34 markets where Pokerstars activity was not expressly authorised;

  • Full Tilt's New Jersey player base consisted of 75,000 accounts - it is not clear how many accounts Pokerstars had;

  • The report cites Amaya's decision to withdraw "from 34 "grey markets" in which the Pokerstars entities previously operated Internet gaming, where it was not expressly authorized" as a reason in support of granting a license.

  • Four unnamed Rational-Oldford Group executives who remained with Amaya after its acquisition have to be released from employment by January 30 2016 "...having failed to establish the requisite good character, honesty and integrity required by the Act due to their involvement in the business activities of the Pokerstars Entities between the enactment of UIGEA and Black Friday."

The report concludes: "The Division concludes that Amaya has demonstrated its suitability for a Transactional Waiver Order. While the Pokerstars entities operated in violation of the law between 2006 and 2011, a number of considerations - including the severe criminal and civil sanctions imposed by the federal government, the complete and irrevocable separation of the previous owners and almost all of the former executives, the acquisition of the assets by Amaya and their incorporation into a robust compliance and control environment, as well as significant changes in the Internet gaming market since 2011- lead to a finding of suitability."

"Based upon the lack of material derogatory information revealed during the Division's investigation and the strength of the integrated compliance plan, the Division concludes that Amaya and Amaya Holdings (IOM) have established the requisite good character, honesty, and integrity required for qualification as a qualifier of a CSIE."

Those interested in reading the full report can do so here.

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