Posts Tagged ‘Rational Group’

Will Amaya Gaming finally get PokerStars in the US?

Friday, June 13th, 2014

The big poker news today – and it’s colossal – is that Amaya Gaming has made a deal with the Rational Group to buy PokerStars, Full Tilt and live tournament tour assets for $4.9 billion. For years people have speculated about the worth of PokerStars and now they know.

One of the key points of this deal is that Isai Scheinberg and his son, Mark, relinquish their shares in the company and ride off into the sunset with billions. The reason why this part of the deal is so big is because it means that PokerStars might finally be able to enter the elusive United States market.

The legal US online poker market is fully underway, with Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada all featuring regulated gaming sites. And so far, PokerStars’ attempts to enter these states have went like this:

Delaware – Stars was denied because Delaware is mainly looking for companies that offer both casino and poker games.

New Jersey – Review of PokerStars’ application has been suspended for two years in the Garden State.

Nevada – Nevada evoked the “bad actor” clause to prevent Stars from entering their market for at least 10 years.

The key point behind PokerStars’ bad actor status in Nevada is that they violated the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). Moreover, the Scheinberg’s retained ownership of the Rational Group after they’d violated the UIGEA.

But now we have Amaya running the show at PokerStars. The Canadian supplier of gambling equipment has no ties to Black Friday, meaning it’s hard to use the bad actor excuse to keep them out.

Of course, despite what state gaming regulatory bodies may say, this is all about anti-competitiveness and helping in-state casinos get off to a strong start. So no matter how illogical it seems, certain US states may still try to call upon PokerStars’ past to keep them out, even though an entirely different company is now in charge.

As for Amaya, it’s likely that they were willing to spend $4.9 billion on Rational’s assets because they know there’s even more potential for Stars IF they can get into the US.

PokerStars’ US Fast-Fold Patent gives them a Tremendous Advantage

Saturday, May 17th, 2014

PokerStars has struck out three times in their efforts to enter the US online poker market. Nevada flat-out denied them, New Jersey said wait two more years, and Delaware didn’t want an operation without an online casino. But while Stars has watched fellow competitors like 888 and partypoker enter the US market, they still hold the trump card.

The Rational Group, PokerStars’ parent company, managed to gain a patent on fast-fold poker, which bodes well for their Zoom Poker product. Patent Number 8,727,850, listed as “Computer gaming device and method for computer gaming,” gives Stars exclusive rights to offer fast-fold variants. This means that 888, which offers Snap Poker, and partypoker, which offers FastForward, both need to worry about their fast-fold variants from a legal standpoint.

Apparently, all it took for PokerStars to gain the patent after hundreds of rejections was a meeting with a United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) examiner. The examiner explained that Stars should change the phrase “folding out of turn” to refer to “when gameplay is at a position of another one of the first plurality of players.”

Thanks to this simple change, PokerStars now owns a key chip with regard to success in the Untied States. Many poker networks around the world are using fast-fold versions to attract more recreational players. After all, fast-fold poker moves players to a new table with fresh cards when they fold – thus allowing for more hands and less waiting.

With the US market still in its infancy, Stars figures to gain a big upperhand once a state does accept their gaming application. The world’s largest poker site definitely has a good opportunity to enter California. Many believe that the Golden State will legalize poker within the next year. And with Stars heavily lobbying politicians in a state with no major casinos – unlike Nevada and Atlantic City – they’re less likely to get shut out of California.

So whenever PokerStars does get accepted into the US, they’ll definitely have one big advantage over everybody else – as if they didn’t already with their massive size and resources.

Next Stop for PokerStars: The State of New York

Thursday, December 26th, 2013

Not long ago, the Rational Group was dealt another crushing defeat in America, when New Jersey decided to suspend review of their online gaming application for two more years. The stated reason why is that they don’t like Isai Scheinberg’s involvement with Rational, or his unresolved case with the US Department of Justice. The real reason why is because Atlantic City casinos don’t want to compete against Rational’s crown jewel, PokerStars, in the online poker market.

So is Rational sitting around crying with their head in their hands? No, they’re already hot on the trail of getting licensed in another American state: New York.

Now, if you know your legal internet gaming in the United States, you realize that only Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada offer regulated online markets. But after a state vote created a seven-casino project, PokerStars feels that Governor Andrew Cuomo and the entire state of New York have gambling fever.

They’ve since sent lobbyists to the Empire State in hopes of working on Cuomo and other New York politicians. According to, these lobbying efforts have already produced results. Here is a look at one key excerpt that wrote about the matter:

It looks like at least Cuomo’s legal team is on Rational’s side; New York law firm Cozen O’Connor‘s rep Stuart Shorenstein had the ear of Bennet Liebman, who is acting as the Governor’s chief advisor on all things gambling these days. According to Shorenstein, it’s now “a good time for an open architecture”; in other words, since you’re opening all these brick-and-mortar casinos, why not add the Internet to the pot? According to a Cuomo spokesman, the governor has taken no official stance on this proposition at this time.

Seeing as how New York’s state government hasn’t even opened serious discussion on the matter of online gaming, there’s no telling when or if it will become a reality. Even still, it’s obvious that PokerStars is on the forefront of the internet gaming movement in New York.

Atlantic Club successfully backs out of PokerStars Deal

Sunday, May 19th, 2013

For the past few weeks, the Rational Group (PokerStars’ owner) and Colony Capital LLC (owns Atlantic Club Casino) have been at war over a business deal. The Rational Group was set to buy the Atlantic Club for $15 million, but they failed to obtain a New Jersey casino license by April 26th, 2013.

What’s significant about this date is that Rational needed to obtain a license by then or the original agreement was altered. Furthermore, the purchase contract stated that Colony Capital could back out of the deal if PokerStars failed to get a license by the 26th. Because Rational failed to meet this clause, a New Jersey Superior Court judge recently ruled that Atlantic Club could terminate their pending deal with PokerStars. Plus they can sell to any company they wish to now.

What made this situation particularly complicated is how Rational dumped $11 million into Atlantic Club to keep it operational. The casino was on the verge of bankruptcy when PokerStars entered the picture and needed money to continue operations. Because they spent so much on Atlantic Club, Rational argued that they’d already met most of the $15 million purchase agreement. But as unethical as it may seem, Colony Capital was able to back out simply because the contract stated they could.

Popular speculation is that Atlantic Club owners didn’t fully realize how much more valuable their property was until partway through the selling process. Because only casino operators can get an online gaming license in New Jersey, the Atlantic Club is probably worth far more than $15 million. So by getting out of a deal with Stars, Colony Club can now seek a more lucrative deal. Of course, this all hinges upon Atlantic Club’s ability to stay open until they find a new suitor.