Amaya Gaming Group Inc., (AYA) will be offered to speculators on the U.S. Nasdaq stock exchange for the first time Monday, June 7. The stock has traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange since July 2010 where it opened at 0.950 and reached a peak of 7.300 in August 2013.
The company has grown meteorically with their biggest coup to date being the acquisition of Rational Group (PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker) last summer for $4.9 billion. Shares more than tripled on that news and the company now has a market cap of nearly $6 billion, making it the largest i-gaming company in the world by enterprise value. Since the Rational acquisition, Amaya has spun off non-essential acquisitions and solidified their core.
Looking forward, the company has teamed up with GVC Holdings with the intention of submitting a bid on the world’s former largest i-gaming company, bwin.party who owns the worlds number three online poker room, PartyPoker – trailing Amaya’s PokerStars and Full Tilt. PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker currently control about 2/3 of poker traffic globally.
Although U.S. punters will be able to speculate on the company’s stocks, they still can’t play the giant’s online poker games. However several Atlantic City online casinos carry Amaya slots and other games. PokerStars and Fill Tilt have so far been incapable of penetrating the Atlantic City online market. The former owners of Rational Group faced civil and criminal sanctions for providing poker illegally in the U.S., giving up $731 million to prosecutors to have the charges disappear. Beyond the “bad actors” syndrome there are also rumors and murmurings that big wheels like Las Vegas Sands’ Sheldon Adelson and New Jersey Governor Chris Christy have been in cahoots to keep them out. According to media reports the governor’s office denies any such allegations.
The listing on Nasdaq should be a sign of comfort for current and potential shareholders, signalling that the company has no issues on the U.S. regulatory front. However, CEO David Baazov and CFO Daniel Sebag are reportedly under investigation in Canada for insider trading.
In a recent statement, CEO Baazov said “I believe that any concerns that I or other Amaya officers or directors violated any Canadian securities laws are unfounded and we are confident that at the end of its investigation, the AMF will come to the same conclusion.”
Potential remains for Amaya to break into the New Jersey and California poker markets, as well as social gaming and fantasy sports. PokerStars could launch at Atlantic City’s Resorts Casino by fall. If online gaming is normalized in more U.S. states in the near future, the sky may be the limit for Amaya stock. However the company may need to come up with a new marketing model after retroactively changing their contract with PokerStars marketing partners – cutting their revenue from a lifetime share to only two years. Other online poker companies, including Carbon Poker followed their lead.