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Amaya's Acquisition of PokerStars Approved by Regulators

Amaya Gaming‘s acquisition of Rational Group assets that include PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker received regulatory approval in all jurisdictions where the company is licensed, it was announced via press release.

The $4.9 billion deal can now continue to move forward as planned, with finalization of the transaction expected in September. While most of the ‘i’s have been dotted and ‘t’s crossed, a shareholders meeting set for July 30 will likely facilitate the transfer to a greater degree in hopes of staying true to the autumn timetable of changing ownership.

Rational Group is licensed in a dozen jurisdictions worldwide, priding itself on holding “more online poker licenses than any e-gaming company.” While the company is well-respected in those rest-of-world locations, its major aim at this point seems to be a focus on receiving online gambling license approval within the U.S.

Currently, Rational’s suitability under Amaya ownership is under review by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement. The sale to Amaya and the removal of the father-son duo of Isai and Mark Scheinberg from holding a controlling interest in the company apparently has New Jersey gaming regulators poised to stamp “Approved” on Rational’s igaming license application.

Such approval remains a bit more complex in other states such as California, where the inclusion of PokerStars in any ipoker scheme has and will meet considerable resistance from a number of gaming interests led by a consortium of Indian tribes. Prior to the announced sale to Amaya, PokerStars partnered with an influential tribe and a triumverate of major cardrooms in hopes of joining the online poker party, but that alliance further muddied an already contentious situation among land-based gaming licensees within the Golden State.

Therefore, approval in New Jersey appears to be PokerStars’ first step in re-entering the U.S. market, a jurisdiction where they have not had a presence for more than three years since their domain was seized by U.S. authorities on Black Friday. But Garden State officials are readying the red carpet and most U.S. online poker players are in a forgiving and welcoming mood toward the industry giant as well.



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Charles Rettmuller

Charles has been an avid poker player for a number of years, both live and online. He holds a degree in journalism and previously worked as a reporter for a Chicago-based newspaper. Charles joined the PokerUpdate team in early 2012 and writes daily news articles for the site.