Posts Tagged ‘Group’

GVC Holdings to Buy Ladbrokes Coral Group

 GVC Holdings to Buy Ladbrokes Coral Group

Merry Christmas, Ladbrokes Coral Group shareholders. Last week, GVC Holdings, the parent company of partypoker, announced that it has come to an agreement to buy UK gaming powerhouse Ladbrokes Coral in a deal that could be worth as much as £4 billion.

“In its relatively short time as a merged entity, Ladbrokes Coral has demonstrated why scale can be so effective in this market,” said John Kelly, Chairman of Ladbrokes Coral said in the announcement. “The management team have delivered a very successful merger that has created a leading betting and gaming business built on strong brands well positioned in key markets. We have a leading multi-channel offer that utilises our retail and on-line businesses and offers us a promising future.”

He added:

Notwithstanding that, the Ladbrokes Coral Board believes that the proposed combination with GVC accelerates our strategy to improve the customer experience, drive faster online growth and build a more diverse and extensive international portfolio of businesses.

The Acquisition has compelling strategic rationale allied to an opportunity to use the best of both from proven management teams and will create material shareholder value. It secures earlier delivery of our long-term value potential, which is why the Board of Ladbrokes Coral has unanimously recommended GVC’s offer.

GVC is buying out all of the outstanding shares of Ladbrokes Coral, paying shareholders 32.7p cash for each share owned plus .141 shares of GVC stock for each share of Ladbrokes. Based on the 934p stock price of GVC on December 21st, that is 164.4p per Ladbrokes share. There is also a contingency that could add on another 42.8p per share, brining the price to 207.19p.

The total value of the deal, based on 1.91 billion shares of Ladbrokes stock outstanding, would be £3.958 billion should the contingency be paid.

That contingency hinges on a January decision by the UK Gambling Commission regarding fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs), gaming machines found in betting shops around the country. Such machines generated about £800 million in revenue for Ladbrokes last year. FOBT’s currently have a maximum bet of £100; the UKGC is mulling cutting that maximum in half, a decision that would obviously impact Ladbrokes and GVC’s top line going forward. There are gambling opposition groups that would even like to see the maximum bet cut to £2, but one would think something that extreme would be unlikely.

If the UKGC makes no changes, Ladbrokes shareholders will get the added cash.

Before this agreement, GVC saw two attempts to buy Ladbrokes fail in the last year. In December 2016, it was reported that GVC offered a £3.2 billion deal, but it was rejected by the Ladbrokes Board of Directors. Then, this summer, a second round of talks fell apart. That offer was for £2.7 billion, 140p per Ladbrokes share. There was the possibility of another 50p being added on, which would have elevated the value of the deal to more than the current one would be with the contingency cash.

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The Stars Group Owns PokerNews.com, Per PokerNews.com

 The Stars Group Owns PokerNews.com, Per PokerNews.com

PokerNews.com, one of the longest tenured poker news sites in the industry, admitted yesterday what was really a poorly-kept secret: it is owned by PokerStars. The revelation, which was surprising in that iBus Media – PokerNews’ corporate name – pretended like nobody really knew, was made during an internal conference call and then posted as a written article by iBus Media’s Head of Poker Content Joss Wood on Monday.

The announcement came in the context of management relaying a new acquisition strategy because of “significant increases in both revenue and headcount.”

Thus, the higher-ups felt it was time to clue its employees in on who owns PokerNews. Somehow, the staff didn’t know, but according to PocketFives President and Editor-in-Chief Lance Bradley (via tweet), employees had been told for a long time that the rumors were “BS,” so maybe that’s why.

As Wood explained in the call/article, Antanas “Tony G” Guoga created iBus Media 15 years ago and in 2010 began selling off his stake in the company to The Stars Group, which now owns a majority position in the business.

From there, the statement tried to minimize the importance of PokerStars’ ownership, saying:

iBus Media has always maintained an arms-length relationship with the Stars Group and there will be no change in the way the business is managed moving forward.

To put the commercial relationship into context, PokerStars and its associated brands currently represent less than 5% of iBus’s affiliate revenues.

iBus Media Director Jon Squires also looked to deflect:

iBus has always maintained its independence and will continue to do so. PokerNews will continue to be the voice of players and a promoter of online poker.

This is an exciting time at iBus as we are growing the range and quality of the services that we offer our igaming partners. Several recent hires have brought increased depth to our management team and we are extremely optimistic about the group’s ability to continue its growth trajectory.

We shall continue to work as hard as we always have to provide both players and clients with the best experience, as we shall continue to grow high value services for the igaming sector.

You may sense a tinge of eye roll in my text, but really, PokerNews does good work overall and has represented the poker world well in its decade and a half existence (it’s not like I’m sitting here breaking hard-hitting news day in and day out). It’s just that its reporting is often PokerStars-centric, with occasional pieces not being news so much as Stars fluff. And I’m not even saying that’s wrong – we all need to pay the bills – it’s more that it’s funny that the company has finally come out and admitted that PokerStars owns it after everyone knew that Stars at the very least had an influential role in the site.

Where PokerNews really shines is in its live tournament reporting, which I have relied on for many tournament articles. Live tournament reporting is not easy and PokerNews has helped tons of poker fans follow the major events. Even that reporting, though, tends to focus on PokerStars players, particularly early on in the tournaments, before the emphasis has to be on the chip leaders.

So now we know that The Stars Group owns PokerNews and it is probably better that we do. As long as the reporting is quality, that’s really all that matters.

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Amaya Changes Name to The Stars Group

 Amaya Changes Name to The Stars Group

PokerStars parent company Amaya Inc. has finally made the transition it previewed this spring, embracing the power of the PokerStars brand and changing its corporate name to The Stars Group. Along with the rebranding comes a headquarters move from Montreal to Toronto.

In a brief press release, the company said:

TORONTO, Canada – August 1, 2017 – Amaya Inc. (Nasdaq: AYA; TSX: AYA) today announced that it has completed the previously announced change of its corporate name to The Stars Group Inc., continuance under the Business Corporations Act (Ontario) pursuant to which it has become an Ontario corporation, and move of its head office from Montreal to Toronto. The Stars Group’s common shares will begin trading under the ticker symbol “TSG” on the Nasdaq Global Select Market and “TSGI” on the Toronto Stock Exchange at market open today. In connection with the name change, The Stars Group also adopted a new corporate logo and will launch a new website at http://www.thestarsgroup.com.

Outstanding stock certificates will not be affected by the name change and will not need to be exchanged. All securities trading, filings and market-related information will be reported under the new corporate name and trading symbols.

The groundwork for the name change naturally began three years ago when Amaya purchased Rational Group, then the parent of PokerStars, for an insane $ 4.9 billion. At the time, people were all like, “What in the hell is Amaya and where is all that money coming from?”

Well, we all certainly know who Amaya is and was by now and the payments for the acquisition have been made. In the ensuing three years, Amaya has taken full advantage of the PokerStars brand, getting BetStars into the public consciousness, creating the PokerStars Championship and PokerStars Festival live poker tours out of the corpse of the European Poker Tour, and signing on high-profile celebrity endorsers like Usain Bolt and Kevin Hart.

The Stars Brand also owns former PokerStars rival Full Tilt as part of its post-Black Friday settlement with the United States Department of Justice, but Full Tilt is now just a skin of PokerStars, rather than its own, independent online poker room.

It only made sense to change the company’s name, as PokerStars is arguably the most recognizable name in online gambling (I said “arguably,” which is actually my way of asking you not to argue with me, as I recognize that other opinions are valid), whereas Amaya was, well, the company who bought PokerStars. I mean, heck, did anybody know that Rational Group previously owned PokerStars?

Amaya has also gotten some bad press over the last couple years, highlighted by the company’s former CEO, David Baazov, who has been charged by Quebec’s securities regulatory agency of insider trading related to the Rational Group acquisition. Even through all that, Baazov made an attempt to buy all of Amaya’s stock and take it public, but his efforts were thwarted to the point where he has sold off much of his holdings in the company. The transition to The Stars Brand is likely a way to cleanse the company of the Baazov stink.

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ARIA Names Group of Players for 2017 Super High Roller Bowl

 ARIA Names Group of Players for 2017 Super High Roller Bowl

Buoyed by the attention – for better or worse – already garnered from previous events associated with it, the 2017 Super High Roller Bowl is ramping up to be a hotly contested battle this May. After choosing 35 players through a blind draw, the host casino ARIA in Las Vegas (the cohost of the tournament with the streaming network Poker Central) now has hand-picked 20 more players to join the field, leaving one more spot open for speculation.

Originally the tournament was to be set at 50 players, but the throng of potential contestants that flooded the ARIA cages with their deposits for the $ 300,000 buy in tournament surprised and stunned both the casino and its broadcast partner. In total 54 players showed support for the tournament, forcing ARIA and Poker Central into a controversial decision to determine the field:  a blind lottery draw that saw 35 names chosen from those who had put their money up. The remaining 15 slots were bestowed to ARIA for dispensing at their pleasure.

This was only the start of the controversy around the tournament, however. The runner up in the 2016 tournament, Fedor Holz, remarked on Twitter about his displeasure with how the selections were being handled. Justin Bonomo took Holz on, questioning Holz’s displeasure as he gets to play in a rake-free tournament for a large amount of money and that his complaints were misguided. Doug Polk took Holz’s side in the discussion, stating that it wasn’t right that ARIA had collected the deposits, then changed the rules on the players after the fact. The lively debate simmered for a bit before all sides calmed without a settlement.

While this was going on, ARIA and Poker Central changed the rules again. Instead of capping the field at 50 players (leaving an odd man out for seven-player tables), they decided to up the field size to 56 players (making for a nice round eight tables to start the tournament). Instead of opening up those six seats to players on the standby list, however, ARIA took them on to bring their total allotment to 21 seats in the now 56 player event. Additionally, ARIA and Poker Central took the route of declaring that the 2018 event would also be 56 players.

Not expected to announce players until closer to the event’s start date on May 28, ARIA instead has chosen to strike while the iron is hot. Earlier this week, ARIA announced 20 of the 21 players they had chosen to play in the tournament. The resulting list is a hodgepodge of businessmen and professional poker players that may or may not have already put a deposit down on a seat for the tournament previously.

Here’s a list of the 19 men and one woman chosen by ARIA to enter the 2017 Super High Roller Bowl:

Bill Klein
Bill Perkins
Bobby Baldwin
Cary Katz
Dan Colman
Dan Shak
Dan Smith
Daniel Negreanu
Dan Perper
Giuseppe Iadisernia
Jason Koon
Jason Mercier
John Morgan
Justin Bonomo
Lauren Roberts
Leon Tsoukernik
Phil Hellmuth
Talal Shakerchi
Antanas “Tony G” Guoga
Zach Hyman

There are some intriguing choices among these players. It is thought that Hellmuth had not put an entry into the previous 54 players and Guoga, who has been serving as a representative of Lithuania’s contingent in the European Parliament (the body that serves as the European Union’s legislature), stated in 2014 that he may play in charity events but he was “done” professionally. Finally, there is Roberts, the lone female player in the group (Kathy Lehne was the only female in the 2016 event), who has a limited Hendon Mob resume and is more known as a “equities and derivatives” trader. Then there’s Iadisernia, who has an interesting history in horse racing but not much experience on the felt.

With this list named, there is still one slot that ARIA is holding that hasn’t been filled. It is thought that ARIA is looking for a high-profile celebrity to take that seat, but they haven’t tipped their hand as to who is under consideration. That selection will probably not be named until much closer to the start of the tournament, indicating that more controversy may still be in the works.

The 2017 Super High Roller Bowl presented by Poker Central and ARIA will be run from May 28-June 1. The $ 300,000 tournament will feature a $ 16.8 million prize pool and pay out a $ 6 million payday to the eventual champion. Since Poker Central discontinued its television outlet, there is no word on whether the tournament will be broadcast on television or not (the 2016 event was broadcast on CBS Sports Network). It will be streamed on Poker Central’s Twitch page, however.

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Conservative Political Group Publicly Denounces RAWA

 Conservative Political Group Publicly Denounces RAWA

United States Representative Bob Goodlatte hates, hates, hates online poker. Wishes it would die. And in the U.S., thanks to his efforts to get the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA) passed, it almost did. Yet despite all that, Rep. Goodlatte is currently one of the poker industry’s strongest allies against Sheldon Adelson and the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA), a bill which aims to ban online poker across the country. This is why conservative advocacy group the Center for Freedom and Prosperity wrote him a letter last week telling him to continue his opposition to the bill.

Why is Rep. Goodlatte, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, (possibly) on our side now? He hasn’t had a change of heart, but rather it’s an “enemy of my enemy is my friend” scenario. He is a one of the biggest supporters of states’ rights in Congress and has already conceded that RAWA would harm the ability of the states to decide for themselves whether or not they want to legalize online gambling. He hasn’t exactly completely against RAWA, but he knows it is a sticky situation.

In the letter, the Center for Freedom and Prosperity appealed to Rep. Goodlatte’s support of the Tenth Amendment (the states’ rights amendment) that even though he is against online gambling, “…politics and one’s personal views should not trump the ability of states to regulate their own affairs.”

The letter goes on to say:

RAWA is an outright assault on federalism. The legislation tramples on the Tenth Amendment by banning state regulation of online gambling – further chipping away at the balance between state and federal governance. The bill would overturn state laws already on the books in three states and would prohibit states from selling lottery tickets online for their own constituents – rolling back at least another six state laws.

The Tenth Amendment was designed to protect states from the unmitigated power of the federal government, because a government powerful enough to tell states they cannot have Internet gaming for their residents is also powerful enough to one-day force gaming on the states. Weakening the Tenth Amendment today will do permanent damage to it.

The Center also adds that any attempt at a compromise, such as somehow banning online gambling on a federal level, yet grandfathering in states that have already legalized it, won’t work. It’s defeat RAWA or bust.

The letter concluded:

We encourage you to continue to stand up for the Constitution, the Tenth Amendment, and the ability of the states to regulate their own affairs. We assume there will be a last ditch effort prior to the 2016 elections to see this provision enacted into law, perhaps as part of a larger spending package. We urge your continued principled opposition to the Las Vegas rent-seekers pushing for this measure. This bill is an assault on the constitutional values we all hold dear.

The letter was signed by a dozen representatives of different organizations, all collaborating under the Center for Freedom and Prosperity banner. They are:

Andrew F. Quinlan, President Center for Freedom and Prosperity
Michelle Minton, Fellow Competitive Enterprise Institute
Thomas Schatz, President Council for Citizens Against Government Waste
Dan Schneider, Executive Director The American Conservative Union
David Williams, President Taxpayers Protection Alliance
Seton Motley, President Less Government
Andrew Moylan, Executive Dir. R Street Institute
Carrie Lukas, Managing Director Independent Women’s Forum
Bob Bauman, Chairman Sovereign Society Freedom Alliance
Norm Singleton, Senior VP Ron Paul’s Campaign for Liberty
Heather R. Higgins, President Independent Women’s Voice
Jeffrey Mazzella, President Center for Individual Freedom

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