Although its purchase of PokerStars and Full Tilt remains under investigation due to unusually heavy stock trading prior to announcing the acquisition last year, Amaya continues to move forward in hopes of achieving some lofty goals.
Shareholders of the company overwhelmingly support the board of directors, recently voting in favor of re-election by a 96% majority, the Financial Post reported. That is indeed a vote of confidence, while Amaya continues to be scrutinized by Quebec securities regulators regarding suspicious trading activity leading up to the PokerStars takeover.
The probe is the largest ever related to possible insider trading in Canada. But no wrongdoing has been cited, and Amaya was vetted by securities regulators in the U.S. before joining the Nasdaq Global Select Market earlier this month.
Bad Actor Label Remains
While Amaya shrugs off the perhaps undeserved bad press received for the insider trading investigation, still attached to the PokerStars name is the bad actor label for operating in the U.S. after the UIGEA was enacted.
It can certainly be pointed out that Amaya is undeserving of that label as well, considering that the decision to remain stateside while the likes of Partypoker and others said sayonara to the U.S. market took place nine years ago under the domain of the Rational Group.
With a goal of entering the U.S. online poker and gambling market in its sights, there remain a number of industry competitors who feel that PokerStars needs to be punished for its past transgressions – whether being controlled by new ownership or not. That is most evident in California, where certain Indian tribes consider PokerStars to be a bad word – unworthy of inclusion in the state’s potential online poker regime.
Yet through it all, Amaya continues on a path of international growth that will likely see PokerStars in New Jersey later this year. And those who like to be on the winning side of bets ought to go ahead and wager on PokerStars eventually offering online poker to the masses in California as well.
It may happen later rather than sooner and we may see a lot more bickering and resistance to compromise by some of the gaming interests involved. But it’s going to happen at some point.
Amaya is the largest publicly held igaming company in the world, with an eye toward further growth in the markets where it has no current presence. That presence won’t be denied in the future, it’s just a matter of when the future becomes the present.
A goal of Amaya is to double up its online poker player base in five years, as well as to branch out beyond gaming. A big key to that growth will be the U.S. market. Amaya CEO David Baazov admitted that he and his colleagues “don’t have a crystal ball,” but at the same time they are “very comfortable with some of the movement” made in potential new U.S. markets that include Pennsylvania.