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NJ DGE Publishes Amaya Gaming Investigation Report

 NJ DGE Publishes Amaya Gaming Investigation Report

The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) released an 89-page report detailing its investigation of Amaya Gaming’s acquisition of PokerStars and Full Tilt and the possibility of issuing the company a Transactional Waiver Order – essentially a probationary license – to offer online gaming in New Jersey. As we know, the Order was granted, so PokerStars and Full Tilt will be able to enter the New Jersey market when ready.

The report goes into gory detail about the history of the two poker rooms and their issues with the U.S. government stemming from both the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA) and Black Friday in April 2011. It continues to discuss the purchase of their parent companies by Amaya Gaming and how all that relates to their internet gaming application.

On just the second page, the report summarizes the green light it gave:

That investigation leads the Division to conclude that Amaya has demonstrated its suitability for a Transactional Waiver Order. While the PokerStars entities operated in violation of the law between 2006 and 2011, a number of considerations – including the severe criminal and civil sanctions imposed by the federal government, the complete and irrevocable separation of the previous owners and almost all of the former executives, the acquisition of the assets by Amaya and their incorporation into a robust compliance and control environment, as well as significant changes in the Internet gaming market since 2011– lead to a finding of suitability.

Most of the document, frankly, isn’t all that interesting unless you have a hankering for minutia, but things do perk up a bit when it gets to the investigation of current and former owners, executives, and management of Amaya, PokerStars and Full Tilt. The DGE traveled to the companies’ offices all over the world and conducted interviews with dozens people.

“In assessing the suitability of principal owners or senior executives (including consultants), the Division examines whether the individual was involved in the management or control of companies who were receiving, accepting or processing online wagers from United States players after the passage of UIGEA,” the report says.

“This suitability review to assess good character, honesty and integrity, also involves individuals who reported to principal owners and senior executives and those who had some decision making authority or control over marketing or game play to United States players or were involved in compliance, audit, payments or operations.”

Over 60 people were subject to review and perhaps interestingly, the DGE has required Amaya to terminate the employment of four of them (they were not named) if it wants to be granted an online gambling license.

Among the other requirements that had to be met before the Transactional Waiver Order was issued were:

•    Amaya has to give the state any funds still in the PokerStars accounts of former New Jersey customers.
•    A number of people are barred from ever having anything to do with Amaya including PokerStars founder Isai Scheinberg and his son, Mark, and former Full Tilt heads Ray Bitar, Chris “Jesus” Ferguson, and Rafe Furst. Howard Lederer was not mentioned.
•    Amaya must notify the DGE when it attempts to develop business in other jurisdictions.

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