Amaya Receives New Jersey Approval for PokerStars, Full Tilt Brands
Canadian online gambling giant Amaya Gaming has announced today that the firm has at long last received formal authorization from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) to operate the well-known PokerStars and Full Tilt brands in New Jersey, once of three US states where regulated online gambling sites are officially available to residents.
The announcement by Amaya ends a long, long waiting period for PokerStars and Full Tilt approval that dates back nearly to New Jersey’s launch of real-money online gambling sites in late 2013. At that time, the two brands were owned by PokerStars’ original founders, the Scheinbergs, but the brands moved to Amaya in the summer of 2014 following a $5 billion reverse takeover by the Canadian gambling firm.
That 2014 sale of the brands to Amaya removed the major stumbling block to the official return of the PokerStars and Full Tilt online-poker brands to US shores — that being the continued presence of the US-indicted Isai Scheinberg behind the Stars scene. Despite the removal from the brands of Isai (and his son and fellow co-founder, Mark), the PokerStars application to do business in New Jersey remained in a lengthy limbo.
The PokerStars and Full Tilt brands will bring solid user recognition to the New Jersey player market, which remains far below advance projections and is in need of its own interest boost. Nonetheless, there is no set timetable for a rollout of the Stars and Full Tilt brands, which are likely to be offered in conjunction with Atlantic City’s Resorts Casino Hotel. Resorts Casino AC has held an operator’s licernse in New Jersey since 2014, and has also signed a deal (originally with former Stars parent Rational Group US, but now with Amaya), to market the Stars and Tilt brands. When the rollout does come, it will include other forms of online gaming as well, as both PokerStars and Full Tilt (now known as Full Tilt Gaming) have added casino-style games to their offerings over the past year.
New Jersey’s official Division of Gaming Enforcement website had not issued a statement verifying the approval of the Stars and Full Tilt brands, but is expected to release an update in the near future. Amaya has already received approval for other service-provider offerings in New Jersey, making the long-delayed PokerStars application a political football of sorts, both in New Jersey and in the American gambling-business scene.
“We are very pleased to add New Jersey to the long list of regulated markets that have found PokerStars and Full Tilt suitable to offer real-money online gaming,” said David Baazov, Amaya’s Chairman and CEO. “I want to thank the DGE for their thorough and fair review of our business. We look forward to bringing our popular brands, innovative technology, marketing prowess and world-class security and game integrity to the growing New Jersey online gaming market. We anticipate providing additional details of our launch plans in the near future.”
According to today’s presser from Amaya, “The DGE’s review of PokerStars was extremely thorough and exhaustive, including a detailed review of Amaya’s operations and technology, sworn interviews with more than 70 individuals and visits to approximately a half dozen international jurisdictions. This stringent review found PokerStars to be under strong, ethical and trusted ownership and management with Amaya, and worthy of participating in New Jersey’s regulated online gaming market.
“Since the acquisition, we have consistently delivered on our stated strategy,” added Baazov. “Today’s announcement follows the divesture of our B2B businesses for total gross proceeds of approximately US$524.8 million; the launch of casino games on PokerStars, which we estimate has one of the largest active user bases of any online casino; the refinancing of our long term debt and the reduction of our annual interest expense by approximately US$62 million. We are excited about our new product pipeline and enthusiastic that we will experience growth in existing and emerging markets in the future.”