Amaya desperately wanted to return PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker to the United States online gambling market, and to achieve such a goal, the Canadian-based company went to drastic measures to alleviate any concerns gaming regulators had in New Jersey.
The Garden State’s Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) took more than a year in deciding whether to approve Amaya’s iGaming license after it acquired the Oldford Group, parent company to Rational and its subsidiaries, PokerStars and Full Tilt.
The decision was complex for DGE officials. Both poker networks had been labeled “bad actors” by the US for continuing to operate following the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) in 2006 through to April 15, 2011, poker’s “Black Friday,” when the Department of Justice (DoJ) forcibly shut down the sites.
Releasing an 89-page report on its Amaya investigation, DGE Director David Rebuck revealed the agency forced the gaming conglomerate to terminate four senior executives who had ties to PokerStars’ founding fathers, Isai and Mark Scheinberg, in order to get licensing in New Jersey.
The DGE claims it reviewed over 45,000 pages of documents, conducted more than 70 interviews, and traveled to over a half-dozen countries in its PokerStars and Full Tilt investigation. In the end, it concluded that a specific quartet of individuals must be fired.
“After careful review of all the evidence … the Division determined that four senior executives who remain with an Amaya subsidiary after the acquisition are not able to establish their good character, honesty and integrity as required by the Act (UIGEA) because they were involved in the management or control of companies that violated UIGEA,” the DGE stated.
“Consequently, each of those individuals must be separated from any employment relationship with Amaya and its subsidiaries if transactional waivers are to be issued.”
Though the DGE didn’t specify the four employees, Steven Stradbrooke at CalvinAyre speculates it includes CFO Michael Hazel, Director of Operations Israel Rosenthal, and Charles Fabian, a development executive with Full Tilt.
Amaya’s willingness to conform to DGE demands will need to continue, as regulators want to know if anyone previously associated with the poker networks attempt to “influence, suggest or communicate with any employee of Amaya” moving forward.
In addition, Amaya must adhere to the following stipulations:
The licensing process for the gaming operator and its two networks in New Jersey was anything but expeditious.
State lawmakers, DGE officials, and even Governor Chris Christie all deflected blame at one time or another, but in the end, it seems the state truly was interested in making sure the Amaya-controlled networks had altered their tainted culture before allowing them back into the US.
The delay was lengthy, but seemingly warranted.