Is Amaya’s Share Buy Back a Hint PokerStars’ US Return is Close?

January 14th, 2015 | by Kaycee James
Amaya preparing for a big 2015.

Amaya Gaming announces plan to buy back CA$165 million worth of shares.

Could Amaya Gaming’s recent pledge to buy back almost CA$165 million worth of its own shares be a sign that PokerStars and Full Tilt are set for big things in 2015?

A recent statement by the company has outlined that over the next 12 months it will be reclaiming up to 5% of its shares and focusing heavily on B2C (Business to Consumer) assets.

Although a complete timeline hasn’t been set, the plan is to buy back the shares and then cancel them in order to increase the relative value of the company for existing shareholders.

“Amaya believes that its current share price does not reflect the underlying value of the corporation, and that purchasing shares for cancellation will increase the proportionate interest of, and be advantageous to, all remaining shareholders,” read a statement from Amaya.

As well as shifting its focus towards a B2C led business model, Amaya is also planning to offload more of its B2B (Business to Business) assets in 2015.

The company recently sold the Ongame Network to the NYX Gaming Group, but the recent statement also suggested that Cadillac Jack Inc could also be sold.

What’s Amaya’s Next Move?

While it’s impossible to draw any solid conclusions from the recent announcement, it’s safe to say that Amaya is confident in its cash assets at the moment.

A full year financial report is expected to show that Amaya’s 2014 revenue figure will hit the upper end of its CA$669 million-CA$715 million projection.

On top of this, Amaya’s willingness to spend CA$164 million on buying back its own shares also suggests it’s capable of paying back the loans it was forced to take in order to purchase PokerStars and Full Tilt.

Aside from drawing general conclusions about the apparent prosperity of Amaya Gaming, many poker insiders are asking what this could mean for the future of PokerStars and Full Tilt.

Is PokerStars’ US Return a Bluff or Solid Bet?

One of the more likely theories could be that Amaya believes both sites will generate more revenues in 2015.

Naturally, the integration of a casino platform, as well as a sportsbook later in the year, will help the company achieve this goal.

However, the more optimistic theory would assume that PokerStars (and possibly Full Tilt) is set to make a return to the US in the near future.

Earlier this week Senator Ray Lesniak posited that New Jersey would be ready to welcome PokerStars in “March 2015”.

Despite Lesniak’s over-optimistic predictions in the past (he previously claimed September 2014 would be the date for PokerStars’ US return), more people are inclined to believe him this time around.

Adam Krejcik of Eilers Research recently rated PokerStars’ chances of going live in New Jersey at greater than 50 percent this year. This assessment, plus the prediction by Lesniak and Amaya’s recent corporate confidence could suggest a US launch is imminent.

However, if history has taught us anything when it comes to the online poker, nothing is ever certain.

Although the latest indicators seem to be pointing towards a US invasion for PokerStars, the extent to which this is true will likely be the cause for continued speculation until either Amaya or US regulators make a definitive statement on the subject.


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