It used to be that the biggest online poker room was privately held. The massive $4.9 billion buyout of PokerStars by the Amaya Gaming Group opened up the possibility for investors to own a piece of the poker room giant through their publicly owned parent company. Now, the head of Amaya is considering giving investors a second way to get on board with the firm.
According to Amaya CEO and chairman David Baazov, the company is planning on creating a dual listing that would result in the firm, including PokerStars, being open to investors on a second exchange.
“There will be a dual listing,” Baazov told the Sunday Times recently, confirming the plan.
New York or London
Right now, Amaya is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange, where it has been traded for the past four years. However, the dual listing would see Amaya also listed for trading either on the London Stock Exchange or one of New York’s exchanges. At this time, no decision has been made on which exchange would be preferable to Amaya.
London would be a likely target, however. Given the UK’s central role in the online gambling world, it’s a natural home for Amaya. In addition, many of the world’s largest gaming companies are traded as part of the gambling sub-sector there, including 888, Ladbrokes, William Hill and bwin.party.
Massive Global Presence
The move comes just a month after Amaya Gaming orchestrated the acquisition of the Oldford Group: the company that owned the Rational Group, and in turn, PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker. The takeover is not yet officially completed, but will result in a rapid expansion of Amaya’s presence in the Internet gambling world, and will give the Canadian company control of about two-thirds of the global online poker market.
The new ownership for PokerStars was also expected to help the poker room reestablish a presence in the United States. While the company had often been blocked by regulators or “bad actor” clauses, it is believed that new leadership is likely to reopen some of those doors. While PokerStars has never had to admit any wrongdoing in the United States, founder Isai Scheinberg still has an outstanding indictment against him, which has been a sticking point in jurisdictions such as New Jersey. As a part of the purchase, Mark and Isai Scheinberg (along with other leading executives) agreed to give up their roles with the Rational Group.
“Bad Actor” Clause
A “bad actor” clause is language contained in online gambling legislation that is designed to stop certain companies – the so-called “bad actors” – from participating in a regulated market. In the United States, this usually means prohibiting companies that continued offering online gambling after the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act went into effect. In particular, these clauses have threatened to prevent PokerStars from competing for licenses in several states. The exact nature of these clauses can vary: some include outright bans, while others only force the “bad actors” to wait a number of years before entering the market.