Legal & Regulatory News

Details released by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) about the award of Amaya's licence show that the company has been ordered to dismiss four members of staff over their involvement with PokerStars and Full Tilt in the US following passage of the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act.

The four individuals, who have not been named in the document, must be removed from their roles on or before January 30th, 2016, for what the DGE describes as having “failed to establish the requisite good character, honesty and integrity”.

The DGE noted however that this is not unusual. “The Division has uniformly applied this suitability review and required the separation of, or disallowed the hiring of, at least 10 senior executives when applying the above standard to all applicants for licensure or registration since New Jersey authorized online gaming,” it said.

“Thus, the application of this standard of review to former employees of PokerStars, FullTilt, and Pyr who are now employed by Amaya is consistent with the Division’s historic review of applicants for licensure or registration.”

The 89 page DGE report also shows that the regulator assessed more than 45,000 pages of documents relating to PokerStars business dealings and performed 71 interviews with 64 employees of PokerStars, Full Tilt and the PYR Software subsidiary - since renamed Amaya Computer Software - that were retained following the $4.9bn acquisition of Rational Group by Amaya in August 2014.

Ultimately the DGE ruled that the acquisition of Rational Group does not give Amaya an unfair competitive or economic advantage as a result of the operator’s post-UIGEA activities. It said that as the brands have been absent from the market since April 2011, there are now “large companies with powerful brand names that are well positioned to challenge the reentry of the PokerStars and FullTilt brands to the Internet gaming market.”

As a result, it certified the operator to re-enter the regulated New Jersey market with land-based partner Resorts Casino Hotel.

Key Amaya personnel including chief executive David Baazov were also vetted by the regulator.

The DGE has also warned the operator that a number of individuals formerly employed by each company, including founder Isai Scheinberg and his son Mark Scheinberg, cannot work with the company in any capacity without its express permission.

The others whose involvement can only be permitted with DGE approval are Pinhas Schapira, Yehuda Nir, Paul Telford, Paul Tate, Nelson Burtnick, Ray Bitar, Rafael Furst, and Chris Ferguson.

Despite this the regulator declares it is satisfied that Amaya's acquisition of the business has esured the "complete and irrevocable separation of the Scheinbergs’ ownership in, and control over, the PokerStars Entities."