PokerStars and Amaya: Two sides of the story


A lot has been said about influence of Amaya Gaming over PokerStars after the giant merger of Rational Group with Amaya back in August 2014. Amaya Gaming Group Inc. acquired the Rational Group Ltd. which owned and operated PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker for $4.9 billion. It’s time to mull over what PokerStars has brought to Amaya under the new management since acquisition.

PokerStars’ impact on Amaya Gaming

Just when the official announcement of acquisition came, Amaya’s stocks attained their all-time high value in 52 weeks at the Toronto Stocks Exchange on 29th July. Amaya’s stock reached a peak value of $30.67 and closed at the end of the day at $29.61 with a net raise of 14%. The two poker sites majorly PokerStars became a monstrous source of revenue for Amaya which got depicted in financial results of the company for Q3 in 2014. The revenue jumped 512% to $239.0 million compared to $39.0 million reported in Q3 2013. It resulted into a huge cash flow for the investors and shareholders.

However this revenue jump came as a mere lemon drop to satisfy a group that had spent $4.9 billion to acquire the two poker sites of Rational Group. PokerStars was already doing well in European market and the tough challenge to the new Amaya management was to launch it on a full-fledged scale in the American as well as Asian market. But, governing bodies of major Asian countries as well as the main states of USA looks in no mood to allow PokerStars’ entry in their territory easy in coming days.

Amaya Gaming’s impact on PokerStars

The first side of the story placed Amaya in a fair position earning and growing after acquiring PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker. But, the second side reflects the dark side of a company desperate to make money neglecting the impact on the game of poker. Patrons of the poker game and professional poker players argue that since Amaya management took over the operations of the site, all new promotions, game variants launched and marketing strategies have only led to undermining the importance of poker as a game. Be it the launch of Spin & Go which boosts luck based prize wins or the launch of casino games which lures the newbies of poker into gambling, Amaya seems to be on a money-making spree.

“I am confident that Amaya, together with Rational Group’s leadership, will continue to successfully grow the business into the future,” said the Rational Group founder and CEO Mark Scheinberg when addressing media in the official announcement. He was affirmative about the business growth but not the growth of poker as a game of skill. If only he had been, sports betting would not be coming to PokerStars.

Although it would be quick to say whether Amaya’s ambitions will transform PokerStars from a poker site to a gambling site but the initial steps definitely hints the onset of that era.