Amaya recently announced that the purchase of Rational Group assets that include PokerStars and Full Tilt has been finalized, paving the way for New Jersey gaming regulators to approve an online gambling license for the industry giant sooner than previously anticipated.
Amaya had set Sept. 30 as a target date for completion of the acquisition, but a flurry of activity last week sped up the process considerably. Early in the week, all 12 regulatory bodies worldwide where Rational Group holds online poker licenses gave the thumbs up to the transfer of ownership to Amaya.
Two days later, Amaya shareholders also voted in favor of the acquisition. Shareholder approval was expected considering the boost in Amaya stock as of late. The company has experienced a rise in share prices over 300% from this time last year, most of the increase attributable to the excitement swirling around gaining control of PokerStars.
Following the go-ahead from Amaya shareholders, the remaining ‘i’s were dotted and ‘t’s crossed, putting the finishing touches on a $4.9 billion acquisition that will allow PokerStars to take center stage in the New Jersey online gambling market. Previously labeled a “bad actor,” PokerStars has shed that image under new ownership and will soon get the nod as lead actor in New Jersey.
When Will PokerStars Officially Be Back?
Industry observers are speculating that a regulated PokerStars site will be launched and available to New Jersey residents as early as autumn. Considering the swiftness with which such a huge acquisition was completed, that timetable is certainly not out of the question. It’s now up to the Division of Gaming Enforcement, who have indicated a willingness to approve in timely fashion.
With PokerStars soon to be a new player in the online poker game in New Jersey, the existing sites of WSOP.com, 888 Poker, Party Poker, Borgata Poker, and Ultimate Poker will be forced to play the game a bit differently. They will likely have to improve to keep pace with PokerStars.
The first order of improvement will likely come in the form of increased marketing. Various reports have circulated indicating that the other gaming companies lowered their marketing budgets in December upon hearing that state gaming regulators suspended PokerStars’ license application for two years.
Marketing spend among the competition will certainly have to be augmented when PokerStars arrives, as the industry giant has shown excellence in attracting and retaining players. With PokerStars in the picture, the stakes become higher and those sites that aim to maintain market share will have to play at a higher level.
That’s not a bad thing, mind you. It is the goal of practically every serious poker player to step up their game by advancing to higher stakes as their knowledge of the game increases. Online poker sites should also strive to improve their game and will have to do so once the best player sits down at the table. The overall industry will become stronger as a result.