Reactions to Amaya PokerStars Deal Run the Gamut

The company behind PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker has been sold.

The company behind PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker has been sold.

* This article has been updated with statements from PokerStars’ Eric Hollreiser and Morongo Chairman Robert Martin.

Today’s news that Amaya Gaming has purchased the Rational Group for $4.9 billion has the entire poker world buzzing. Reactions have varied from disbelief to jubilance to speculation about the future.

Let’s see what key players in the industry has to say about this.

The Poker Players Alliance

In a statement released Friday morning the Poker Players Alliance Executive Director John Pappas called the deal, “… encouraging news for millions of American players who have anxiously awaited the return of PokerStars to the U.S.”

Pappas went on to say, “Amaya’s acquisition should remove any perceived impediment for this popular brand to once again be available to players in regulated U.S. jurisdictions. This is a positive development for poker enthusiasts and the potential return of the PokerStars brand will grow our game. For years, PokerStars has been a trusted and preferred online poker provider within the player community with more than 90 percent of PPA members indicating they want the opportunity to play on a PokerStars site or platform.”

PokerStars CEO Mark Scheinberg

In an internal e-mail sent to PokerStars employees current CEO Mark Scheinberg offered up the following thoughts on the sale:

“Today we announced a transaction for the sale of Rational Group to Amaya Gaming Group, a Canadian publicly traded company. This will be the largest deal of its kind in the history of our industry, and follows more than six months of negotiations between the parties.”

Scheinberg also relayed that “PokerStars headquarters will remain in the Isle of Man” and that he would stay on as CEO until the closing of the sale at which point he, along with his father Isai Scheinberg and co-founder Pinhas Shapira would “relinquish all responsibilities” and step down from the company.

Morongo Chairman Robert Martin

I spoke with Chairman Martin this afternoon and he stated he feels this is a “positive move,” for their partnership and for California, and only reiterates what the tribe has said all along, “PokerStars is the best in the industry.”

Eric Hollreiser

Echoing Chairman Martin’s statement was PokerStars Head of Corporate Communications Eric Hollreiser who told me the company believes “the agreement with Amaya only strengthens our partnership in California.”

Alexandre Dreyfus

Earlier today I spoke with Alexandre Dreyfus of Zokay Entertainment( and, who feels the deal is both good and bad for online poker, with the good far outweighing the bad.

As Dreyfus explained, PokerStars owners heavily reinvested in their product and the poker world at large, whereas Amaya Gaming will have to balance this reinvestment with not only paying back its debts, but also its obligations to its investors.

Dreyfus called Amaya “ballsy and smart,” as he feels that the Scheinberg’s wanted out and that Isai would like to settle with the US Department of Justice and not worry about going on holiday. As Dreyfus puts it, “it could have been any company and not Amaya,” but it was Amaya CEO David Baazov sensed this and put together the investors to make it happen.

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