PokerStars: How Far It’s Come in 2015 and Where It’s Headed Next

Posted on January 1st, 2016 by Daniel Ryder
David Baazov PokerStars 2015

Amaya CEO David Baazov, left, isn’t even 40 yet, but the young gambling boss has his company positioned for exponential growth in 2016, thanks largely to the acquisitions of PokerStars and Full Tilt and their imminent entry into the New Jersey marketplace. (Image: Eric Verduzco/

PokerStars is the most famous, robust, and successful online poker room on the planet.

After several years of legal turmoil and a $4.9 billion buyout by Amaya, PokerStars finally found some sense of stability in 2015, and the network capitalized by maintaining its market dominance.

It won the jackpot in late September when New Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) approved its operating license, following a tedious and drawn-out process.

Looking back over the last 12 months on the performance of PokerStars must bring delight and a smile to Amaya CEO David Baazov and investors of the Canadian-based public company.

Here’s a walk down memory lane on the path to prosperity for Amaya.

January 2015

On the heels of Quebec financial investigators raiding Amaya’s Montreal headquarters on allegations of insider trading, the company strategically appoints former Ontario Police Commissioner Chris Lewis to its Board of Directors.

In late January, PokerStars’ sister network Full Tilt accidentally announces on its iPhone app that it’s “pleased to announce that we have a new version of our game software fully licensed by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement.” The error was immediately retracted.

March 2015

Amaya announces it plans to buy back and then cancel five percent of its public shares, a telling sign that the corporation feels confident in its economic outlook.

Two weeks later, anti-gambling’s most financially equipped crusader Sheldon Adelson hosts the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas. The casino billionaire mingles with powerful GOP lawmakers and continues to push RAWA, the Restoration of America’s Wire Act.

April 2015

Baazov tells investors he expects New Jersey to approve its operating license in the third quarter of 2015.

May 2015

PokerStars ups its celebrity endorsement roster by signing soccer superstars Neymar Jr. and Cristiano Ronaldo to marketing deals.

May also saw the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians and eight other tribal organizations change their position from neutral to opposed as it relates to online poker. Morongo and San Manuel Band of Mission Indians continue their support of iPoker.

June 2015

To combat Adelson’s political influence in Washington, DC, Amaya and the Poker Players Alliance partner and hires lobbying firm Valente & Associates. Meanwhile, revenues for Internet poker in New Jersey continue to decline.

July 2015

PokerStars joins the Californians for Responsible iPoker coalition and starts sending its pro team members, including legend Daniel Negreanu, on a statewide tour to promote legalization.

August 2015

Daily fantasy sports (DFS) explodes in the United States primarily on the impending NFL season. PokerStars wants a piece of the action and acquires DFS platform Victiv and rebrands it as StarsDraft.

September 2015

Diversifying its repertoire, PokerStars’ casino product offers its first sports betting line.

On the last day of the month, online poker mayhem breaks as New Jersey approves PokerStars and Full Tilt.

October 2015

Following the much-covered scandals surrounding DFS, StarsDraft is restricted to only four states in what’s likely an attempt by PokerStars to gain favor with states deliberating the legality of daily fantasy contests.

November 2015

PokerStars and Full Tilt say they will not debut in New Jersey until after the New Year, due to unclaimed player balances stemming from 2011. Part of the New Jersey DGE approval stipulated that PokerStars had to resolve the remaining $428,000 in pre-Black Friday balances.

December 2015

It’s a joyful holiday season for Amaya. With the 2016 forecast nothing but sunshine for PokerStars owner Baazov, it’s a perfect time to reflect, celebrate, and look forward to the world’s biggest poker network returning to the United States.


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