Amaya Gaming Gets Universal OK for PokerStars Purchase

July 30th, 2014 | by Brian Corlisse
It's good to be Amaya Gaming: regulators across the board have given their blessings to the PokerStars acquisition.

Signed, sealed and almost delivered: Amaya Gaming has gotten the green light on its PokerStars purchase all around. (Image:

When the Amaya Gaming Group agreed to buy the Rational Group and its PokerStars and Full Tilt brands for a price of $4.9 billion, they were certainly taking some major risks. But gaining the trust of regulators worldwide doesn’t seem to have been one of them.

Since the purchase was first announced, Amaya has heard nothing but praise and anticipation from regulators in the United States and elsewhere in regards to their plans to expand the PokerStars brand.

Now, those positive reactions have turned into something more concrete. Amaya Gaming has announced that they have received all necessary regulatory approvals required to complete their purchase of the Rational Group.

According to a press release, that includes “all required approvals from the gaming regulatory authorities that currently license Rational Group Ltd., owner and operator of the PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker brands, in connection with Amaya’s previously announced acquisition of Rational Group.”

Stock Exchange Also Gives Conditional Approval

Amaya also announced that the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) has conditionally approved the transaction. TSX approved both the listing of new shares and other equity products and instruments that are being issued to help finance the purchase of the Rational Group.

These moves should help pave the way for a smooth completion of the purchase. Amaya’s shareholders will still have to approve the financing for the acquisition, as the vast majority of the purchase cost will be financed through debt. That matter is expected to be considered at the annual shareholders meeting for Amaya, which is scheduled to take place this week.

“Assuming a favourable outcome at the Shareholder’s Meeting, Amaya and Oldford Group Ltd., the parent company of Rational Group, intend to move expeditiously towards completion of the Transaction,” the company’s statement read.

ARJEL Approves Change in Control

While Amaya did not outline the individual approvals they received before their announcement, one regulator did make a related announcement last week. French online gaming authority ARJEL approved the change of ownership of REEL MALTA Limited, a PokerStars subsidiary that runs their segregated French site. The authorization noted that the purchase marked only “a change in indirect control” of the site, and “does not affect its technical, economic and financial capacity to carry out its activity.”

The purchase of the Rational Group by Amaya Gaming was first announced in mid-June. For the enormous purchase price of $4.9 billion, Amaya acquired all of the assets controlled by Rational, including both PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker. The latter has since been rebranded to simply Full Tilt to reflect a broader range of online casino offerings in most jurisdictions.

One of the major goals for Amaya appears to be returning both PokerStars and Full Tilt to the United States through regulated state markets. Towards that end, one of the conditions of the sale was that the Scheinbergs would be leaving the company in all aspects, fulfilling the change in leadership needed to appease some regulators.

Amaya will look to turn Full Tilt into a more universal gambling brand, as both Rational and Amaya have worked to expand the number of casino games offered through their client. Sports betting has also been floated as a potential avenue for the Full Tilt brand.

Amaya’s purchase of the Rational Group is expected to be completed later this year.

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