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Amaya Gaming Enters DFS Industry, Buys

While U.S. players impatiently wait for the New Jersey government to get off its ass and approve PokerStars’ internet gaming license, the world’s largest online poker room has made a move to get back into the U.S. gaming market. Amaya Gaming, PokerStars’ parent company, announced today that it has purchased Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) site for an undisclosed dollar amount.

The move was previewed in the spring when Amaya Gaming CEO David Baazov said on an earnings call that his company planned to get into the DFS industry before the National Football League (NFL) season started.

“We have also taken the strategic decision to enter the daily fantasy sports category and are pursuing parallel tracks of internal development and strategic acquisition,” Baazov said. “We expect to provide more details on this strategy in the second half of 2015 but see a clear crossover from poker and daily fantasy sports.”

victivAcquisition it is. Victiv is a young site – it has only been around for eleven months – but it has already developed a solid reputation. Based in Austin, Texas, Victiv is known for its slick, easy-to-use web-based interface and promotions geared towards players on a budget. And even though it accepts major credit cards and PayPal, it also accepts Bitcoin, something those who still play online poker in the U.S. may appreciate. Victiv is not nearly as big as, say, FanDuel or DraftKings, but the acquisition by Amaya Gaming could certainly help give it a boost.

Victiv will be renamed StarsDraft. For now, it is still, but the site is up with a place-holder front page that links to Victiv. PokerStars also plans to integrate its new DFS offering in its traditional poker client at some point.

Daily Fantasy Sports is unique in the United States in that it is a form of online gambling that is actually legal throughout the country, except in states where laws on the books make it explicitly illegal (those states are in the extreme minority). The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA), the law that aimed to curb the flow of funds to and from internet gambling sites actually helped launch the DFS industry, as it included a carve-out for fantasy sports. As long a fantasy sports offering meets the following three criteria, it can be played on the internet for real money:

1.    All prizes are made known in advance of the contest and their value is not determined by the number of entrants or the entry fee.
2.    Results “reflect the relative knowledge and skill of the participants” and must be determined “predominantly” by the stats produced by athletes in multiple games.
3.    The winning outcome of the DFS match is not based on point spreads, a single real-world team, or a single real-world athlete.

In DFS, participants construct teams of real-life athletes through either a draft process with other competitors or using a salary cap system (each real player is assigned a salary and total salaries on a team must stay under a certain level). Points are earned based on the players’ performances in daily real-life games (or weekly, as is often the case for NFL fantasy sports) and the top participants earn money. Victiv offers a number of different types of contests such standard games that are like poker Sit-and-Go’s and start when a certain number of people register, guaranteed competitions which begin a set time and have a minimum, guaranteed prize pool, and heads-up events in which two customers play against each other for the other’s buy-in, minus rake.

It is a fun alternative to full-season fantasy sports, which, while also enjoyable, often lose their luster as seasons go on when participants get bored or abandon under-performing teams. DFS has also given former U.S. poker players an opportunity to use some of their gambling skills in a game that is not only permitted in the States, but also doesn’t require the time commitment that poker does.

The full press release from Amaya Gaming follows:

Amaya Inc. (TSX: AYA, NASDAQ: AYA) (“Amaya” or the “Corporation”) today announced that it has acquired Victiv (, an Austin, Texas based daily fantasy sports (“DFS”) site that offers players the opportunity to build a roster of their favorite sports stars and compete for the chance to win real money.

The current Victiv team will manage the DFS business, which will be rebranded StarsDraft and will be initially launched at in select U.S. markets and later through the PokerStars platform. Victiv has received considerable attention among daily fantasy players for its user-friendly and innovative software for fantasy sports enthusiasts.

“StarsDraft ( ) will combine Victiv’s innovative platform and experienced DFS team with Amaya’s expansive consumer base and operational excellence as the world’s preeminent online gaming brand,” said Matthew Primeaux, CEO of Victiv. “We intend to capitalize on what we believe is strong crossover between online poker players and daily fantasy sports. PokerStars is the most-trusted brand in online gaming and brings unmatched security, customer support and technical infrastructure that we believe all players can rely on.” will feature the innovative Victiv software that Amaya believes has made the site increasingly popular since its launch last September, particularly among players who are new to the game. In particular, the Bankroll Builder feature allows new players the chance to learn the game in a risk-free environment. Joining free-to-enter contests new players have a chance to display their sports knowledge and win cash without having to deposit.


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