Amaya and PokerStars Forced to Play by New Jersey Rules

on October 13, 2015

Amaya and PokerStars New Jersey regulation license online gambling poker

Amaya and PokerStars boss David Baazov, seen here with poker legend Daniel Negreanu, is helping to change the online gambling culture in the United States. (Image: Nicolas Godin/Horizon Weekend)

Amaya and PokerStars waited for over a year to receive New Jersey’s blessing to return to the United States online gambling market, and this week it was revealed the long road back ended with a rather severe toll by way of Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) regulators forcing the gaming company to sever ties with four executives.

In the agency’s report “Regarding the Investigation of Amaya,” DGE concluded that four individuals still associated with the company have failed to establish “good character, honest, and integrity,” and that in order for New Jersey to approve its license application, their contracts must be terminated.

$4.9 billion in the hole due to its purchasing of the Rational Group and its subsidiaries PokerStars and Full Tilt, the chance to get back into the US was a no-brainer for CEO David Baazov and Amaya’s senior leadership who reportedly took swift action on the mandates.

Amaya will also be required to routinely submit meeting minutes and follow a series of transparency clauses.

New PokerStars, New Market

The DGE disclosure signals that American online gambling in 2015 is vastly different than the unregulated one of the 2000s. Instead of offshore Internet networks playing by their own set of rules, this time around the operators are being forced to adhere to safeguards and regulations dictated by US lawmakers and officials.

Amaya, the Montreal-based gaming corporation now traded on the NASDAQ stock exchange, didn’t own PokerStars and Full Tilt back in the Wild, Wild West days of iPoker.

Following Chris Moneymaker’s 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event win, the poker boom officially took off and PokerStars pounced.

Founders and brothers Isai and Mark Scheinberg profited millions before Congress intervened with the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA).

The bill was supposed to send online betting into prohibition, but PokerStars and Full Tilt continued providing its services to US customers until April 15, 2011, poker’s “Black Friday” when an indictment was unsealed and the networks were confiscated.

The lengthy debate in 2006 and subsequent unlawful activities by the operators now controlled by Amaya gave not only iPoker but iGambling as a whole a large black eye.

However, slowly but surely those strong negative opinions on the industry have softened as lawmakers realize the potential upside of regulating.

Amaya All-In With Regulations

After an exhaustive investigation by the Garden State’s DGE, the conclusion was that the core principles have vastly changed at PokerStars and Full Tilt since being acquired by Amaya.

In fact, the online gaming company is calling on additional regulations as it relates to daily fantasy sports (DFS), the hottest buzzword currently in gaming.

DFS operators DraftKings and FanDuel caused plenty of controversy last week when it was revealed an employee won $350,000 allegedly using confidential data from his company to gain an illegal advantage on the rival’s platform.

Amaya is trying to get in on the thriving DFS market, launching StarsDraft this fall.

“The recent incidents involving the practices of certain leading companies in DFS demonstrate that the current self-regulatory practices have fallen short,” Amaya said in a statement. “The industry is in need of stricter state regulation similar to existing regulatory and consumer protection measures to which other gaming activities and their operators are subject.”

An online gambling company calling for more regulation is seemingly a first. 2015 features a new PokerStars, a new Full Tilt, and a new online gambling market in the United States.