PokerStars Fields Players, Regulators After Amaya Purchase

June 19th, 2014 | by Kaycee James
PokerStars, Amaya Gaming, Rational Group

PokerStars says it will be business as usual after being purchased by Amaya Gaming. (Image: PokerStars)

When the Rational Group was purchased by Amaya Gaming for $4.9 billion, there was no doubt that it would rock the online gambling landscape in any number of ways. But with only a quick reference to uninterrupted service for existing PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker players, many around the world had questions as to what exactly the massive acquisition would mean for them. Many were even concerned that the sites would suffer under new ownership.

PokerStars has quickly moved to alleviate these concerns by issuing several statements in the days since the takeover announcement, saying that players, staff and regulators have little to fear from the Amaya acquisition.

“No Significant Impact”

“The short version is that there will be no significant impact on the player experience,” wrote Steve Day, Director of Poker Room Operations for PokerStars. Day wrote a long statement on the takeover in the forums in the hopes of clarifying how Amaya’s ownership would (and would not) impact the two poker sites operated by the Rational Group.

One major concern came from Canadian players, who worried that since Amaya was a Canadian firm, they might pull out from their nation’s market. While Canada is open to foreign operators, there are laws that prevent Canadian firms from operating online gambling businesses in unregulated Canadian jurisdictions.

But Day said that this would not be an issue.

“We still plan to serve all current markets, including Canada, and to work to grow the game of poker globally,” Day wrote. “We are also excited about the potential to be licensed in New Jersey and then begin serving players there quickly thereafter. I do not have a timeline to share, but can say that we believe this purchase has a significant positive impact.”

Day also worked to calm fears that Amaya might take away control of PokerStars from the management team that had made the poker giant so successful in the past, or that customer support or the quality of the products offered by the company would be diminished.

“Though Mark and Isai [Scheinberg] are leaving, the culture and values remain, along with the nearly 2,000 staff who continue to turn our culture and values into action on a daily basis,” Day wrote. “Our entire leadership team is still in place…to a person, we are all still here.”

Regulators’ Concerns Also Addressed

Players weren’t the only ones with concerns over the purchase, however. The Oldford Group (the parents company of the Rational Group) issued a letter to the Chief Minister of the Isle of Man in order to assure him that there would be no negative impact due to the Amaya purchase.

“Given PokerStars’ headquarters is here on the Isle of Man…you were understandably concerned about the potential impact this acquisition could have on the local e-gaming industry, local jobs, the Manx economy and the broader, local community,” wrote Paul Telford, General Counsel to the Rational Group.

“As you know, PokerStars is a consumer facing business which means there is little or no overlap between the two companies that would lead to job losses,” he explained. “I can therefore confirm there are no planned redundancies.”

PokerStars employees also received an email from co-founder Mark Scheinberg, expressing his gratitude for their work and assuring staff that there would be “minimal distractions” from the normal operations of the company.

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