Amaya CEO David Baazov

Amaya CEO David Baazov expressed excitement over the acquisition of the Rational Group. (Image: calvinayre.com)

Ever since the Amaya Gaming Group announced their proposed buyout of the Rational Group, including PokerStars and Full Tilt, it’s been expected that the transaction would go through without any real problems. Sure enough, the hurdles were surpassed one by one, and now the company can officially claim to own the world’s largest poker site.

Amaya Gaming Group has announced that it has completed its acquisition of the Oldford Group, the parent company of the Rational Group. The $4.9 billion purchase sees Amaya take over PokerStars, the world’s largest online poker site, and Full Tilt, another of the industry’s most notable names.

“We are extremely pleased to have completed this Acquistion,” said Amaya CEO David Baazov in a press release.

The closing of the purchase officially ends the tenure of Rational CEO Mark Scheinberg, who as a condition of the takeover will play no role in the company going forward.

“I’m confident that Amaya, together with Rational Group’s leadership, will continue to successfully grow the business into the future,” Scheinberg said.

Shareholders Approve Purchase, Name Change

The announcement of the official takeover comes just days after a special shareholder’s meeting for Amaya, during which shareholders gave their formal approval to the takeover.

At the time, Baazov said that he was thrilled with the “phenomenal and overwhelming support” from shareholders for the purchase, but said that the hardest work would come after the acquisition was completed.

“On behalf of the board of directors, I wish to extend my appreciation to shareholders for their overwhelming support of the acquisition of Rational Group,” he said.

Shareholders also made another important decision during the meeting. A special resolution was passed that will rebrand the Amaya Gaming Group as Amaya, Inc., which the company says better reflects “the actual name by which the corporation is routinely identified by the greater public.”

No Change to Rational’s Culture

Amaya, a publicly owned gaming firm based in Toronto, will be taking over a company that was essentially a family controlled online poker business. This has led some to question whether changes will be in store at PokerStars and Full Tilt. But Baazov says that Amaya understands what made Rational work, and that customers can expect the culture of the company to stay largely the same.

“Rational’s success is attributable to the company’s core values of integrity, customer focus, and challenge,” Baazov said, noting that most of the senior management team, minus the Scheinbergs, will be staying on board. “These values are ingrained in the DNA of the company’s staff located across the globe, led by Rational’s deep, experienced executive and leadership teams. We intend for Rational to maintain this culture and will support its initiatives to continue growing this world-class business.”

The final stages of the purchase proceeded quickly. The shareholder approval came just days after Amaya announced having received all of the necessary regulatory approvals in order to proceed with the takeover.

It appears that Amaya’s first major move for their new properties may be an attempt to get PokerStars and Full Tilt back into the United States, most likely through the New Jersey market. Regulators in the state have responded favorably to the Amaya acquisition of the brands, and the Rational Group already had an existing agreement with Resorts Casino Hotel to provide online gambling services if they could get regulatory approval.

The company recently re-branded Full Tilt, dropping the word “poker” to reflect a broader offering of online casino games for the controversial brand.