Bloomberg reports that PokerStars and Amaya Gaming Inc are close to a deal that would see PokerStars become part of Amaya Gaming Inc.
The Rational Group is the parent company of PokerStars, the world's leading online poker website. If the deal finalizes, Amaya could acquire all of Rational Group's assets. Representatives from both sides are not commenting on the deal but an announcement could come as early as today.
PokerStars has been seriously working towards entering the U.S. market for some time now as evidenced by news coming out of New Jersey last December when the site's online gambling license application was suspended for two years after the review by the New Jersey Department of Gaming Enforcement (DGE).
Isai Scheinberg, PokerStars founder, is cited as one of the main reasons for the suspension. Scheinberg is still under federal indictment from Black Friday for violating the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act and Illegal Gambling Business Act.
"The Division’s determination is based primarily on the unresolved federal indictment against Isai Scheinberg for the alleged violation of federal gambling statutes, namely, the Illegal Gambling Business Act and the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, and the involvement of certain PokerStars executives with Internet gaming operations in the United States following the enactment of UIGEA," the statement from the New Jersey DGE said.
Scheinberg apparently will not make the trip to the U.S. to face charges from the U.S. Department of Justice which makes him the roadblock that keeps PokerStars from stepping back into the U.S. market.
If Amaya acquires PokerStars, it's possible that Scheinberg and other executives that were the DGE's main reason for suspending the site's online gaming license application will no longer be in the picture and PokerStars could prepare to come back to the online poker market that is established in Delaware, Nevada, and New Jersey.
If the deal is finalized, Amaya could become the number one player in the global online poker game since PokerStars is the world's largest online poker site. Amaya's bid is said to be backed by GSO Capital Partners LP — Blackstone Group LP’s credit business.