Wall Street Journal reported on plans by Amaya Gaming Group Inc., a Montreal-based producer of gaming machines and systems, to buy PokerStars, the largest online poker operator in the world. According to the Wall Street Journal, Amaya Gaming will be paying $4.9 billion to take over privately held Oldford Group Ltd., parent company of Rational Group Ltd. that owns the PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker. —
Online gaming proponents hope that having PokerStars back in the game will mean an upswing for the industry in the U.S., which has been unexpectedly slow despite the legalization in the states of Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey. According to analysts, New Jersey has only generated between $130 million and $150 million last year, considerably less than what experts had expected. Part of the problem could be the fact that some leading banks in the United States are hesitant to let their customers use credit cards for online games, fearing regulatory risks. Another issue, in the opinion of iGaming experts, is the absence of PokerStars on the market. “You can't create a market without PokerStars, period,” Jeff Ifrah, a litigator, who regularly represents PokerStars, told the Wall Street Journal.
Other experts and attorneys assess the situation more gloomily and expect that PokerStars, regardless of the change of ownership, will have to fight some battles before it can secure approvals, which will allow them to re-enter the market in the United States. On top of that, commercial giants are lobbying for strict “bad actor” provisions in the proposed legislation in an attempt to prevent their rival from coming back into the game. Jeff Ifrah is not too concerned about this development though: "They're going to now have an uphill battle with that argument. There is no taint to these assets and there is no legal basis to keep PokerStars out of the US market," Ifrah says.
Jeff Ifrah is the founding member of Ifrah PLLC, a law firm specializing in iGaming, headquartered in Washington, D.C. with offices in MD, VA and Atlantic City. Together with his team of renowned attorneys at Ifrah Law, he represents many major iGaming companies and industry associations in the world, amongst them online poker sites PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, as well as the Interactive Gaming Council, a non-profit organization that represents iGaming companies across countries all over the globe. Two characteristics uniquely qualify Ifrah Law to represent iGaming companies: Substantial experience in both criminal defense and civil litigation and knowledge of the industry and the people who work in it. Through the representation of online gaming businesses over a number of years, they have acquired an in-depth understanding of the industry. That understanding is the key to their ability to craft solutions that meet their client’s goals. Jeff was named to the Gaming Intelligence Magazine Hot 50 List. He serves on the editorial board of the World Online Gambling Report and is a member of the International Masters of Gaming Law.
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