US Poker Sites

Amaya Purchase of PokerStars Paves Way into NJ

Posted on by Curt Anderson

PokerStarsWithout the acquisition of PokerStars by Amaya in 2014, the industry’s top poker site would still be sitting on the rail and not allowed into New Jersey.

The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) released its findings pertaining to the igaming license application of PokerStars, revealing that the sale to Amaya in 2014 was key to obtaining approval. That approval was issued by the DGE in the form of a Transactional Waiver Order on September 30.

The findings were laid out in a 89-page report by the DGE following an exhaustive examination into the purchase of PokerStars and Full Tilt by Amaya for $4.9 billion in 2014. The DGE, among its findings, was not very friendly to the previous owners of PokerStars and its assets, a group that included founder Isai Scheinberg and his son, Mark.

UIGEA Violated

The report points out that the PokerStars entities operated in violation of the law between 2006 and 2011 under the old regime, the period beginning with enactment of the UIGEA in 2006 and ending with Black Friday about five years later. Incidentally, today, October 13, happens to be the anniversary of the date in 2006 when President Bush signed the UIGEA into law as part of the Safe Port Act.

The DGE goes on to find favor with Amaya due to the complete and irrevocable separation of the Scheinbergs’ ownership in PokerStars, as well as the removal of all other significant owners and senior executives of the company who were at the helm prior to the indictments handed down on Black Friday.

Selfless Scheinberg?

Of course, many are of the mind that the main reason that Isai Scheinberg gave up his stock in the company was so that PokerStars could once again operate in the U.S. It was fairly obvious following the two-year suspension of PokerStars’ license application by the DGE that approval would not be forthcoming any time soon because the site remained in the U.S. while other poker sites adhered to the statute as spelled out in the UIGEA.

While many have villified the elder Scheinberg for servicing the U.S. market during that period of almost five years, as well as never answering the charges pertaining to the Black Friday indictments, it’s worth noting that Scheinberg seemingly stepped aside in order for PokerStars to regain entry into the U.S. by way of New Jersey. While he certainly became wealthy beyond almost unimaginable means by selling out, it could also be viewed as a selfless act done for the good of the poker site he founded.

The gaming regulators at the DGE who compiled the report, spearheaded by director David Rebuck, found that Amaya has successfully incorporated the new assets of Full Tilt and PokerStars into a robust compliance and control environment. We can safely assume that such praise would have never been lavished on the former ownership, despite the goodwill achieved when PokerStars paid a fine for its misdeeds and rescued Full Tilt in 2012.