Amaya will officially enter the real-money daily fantasy sports (DFS) market under the new brand “Starsdraft.”
The company announced this week that it had acquired the Austin-based DFS website Victiv, which will be completely rebranded with the new name, and rolled out “in certain markets within the US and later on the PokerStars platform.”
Amaya’s move into the burgeoning DFS market had been anticipated for some time.
CEO David Baazov revealed as much during a conference call to discuss the company’s Q1 earnings back in March, when he also hinted at the Victiv acquisition.
“We have also taken the strategic decision to enter the daily fantasy sports category and are pursuing parallel tracks of internal development and strategic acquisition,” he said. “We expect to provide more details on this strategy in the second half of 2015 but see a clear crossover from poker and daily fantasy sports.”
Baazov added that Amaya’s goal is to be up and running with daily fantasy sports before the new NFL season starts on September 10.
Reconnecting with Former US Customer
Then, last month, many of PokerStars’ former US customers, who had not heard a peep from the site since it beat a hasty retreat from the US market following the events of Black Friday, reported receiving emails from PokerStars to gauge their opinions on a possible PokerStars DFS product.
There lies the scope of Amaya’s potential penetration into the DFS market: a readymade list of hundreds of thousands of US poker players eager to welcome them back, and a huge crossover between the online poker and DFS markets, as evidenced by the DraftKings branding all over the WSOP this year.
Furthermore, DFS offers PokerStars a legal road back into America, without the need to wait years for state-by-state legalization and regulation. That way when new states do regulate online poker, PokerStars will already be there.
Fantasy sports is exempt from the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act 2006 because powerful lobbyists for the sports leagues were able to convince the government that it was somehow “not gambling.”
Starsdraft … by PokerStars
This leaves it up to individual states to decide whether the games are legal, and currently only five states, Arizona, Louisiana, Montana and Washington, deny their citizens access to all kinds of DFS sites, although some states permit access to some sites and not others, depending on local gambling laws.
“StarsDraft will combine Victiv’s innovative platform and experienced DFS team with Amaya’s expansive consumer base and operational excellence as the world’s preeminent online gaming brand,” promised Matthew Primeaux, CEO of Victiv.
“We intend to capitalize on what we believe is strong crossover between online poker players and daily fantasy sports.”
Amaya, meanwhile, praised Victiv’s “innovative software,” in particular the “bankroll builder” feature that allows new players to learn the game in “risk free” no-deposit environment.
Visitors to the page starsdraft.com are currently greeted with the message: “Starsdraft … by PokerStars. Available soon.”