When it was announced that Canada’s Amaya Gaming Group would be buying the Rational Group for $4.9 billion, it sent a shockwave through the online poker community. While the initial reaction may have been one of excitement over the possibility of PokerStars returning to the United States, however, an undercurrent of fear quickly spread.
What would this mean for players at PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker? How could the publicly owned Amaya maintain the standards customers had come to expect from PokerStars?
Sensing that players were worried, PokerStars has moved to assure players that it will be business as usual for the company, even if the bosses at the top of the corporate pyramid will be changing.
No Changes to Service Expected
“The short version is that there will be no significant impact on the player experience,” wrote Steve Day, director of poker room operations for PokerStars, in a post made on the twoplustwo.com forums. “We still plan to serve all current markets, including Canada, and to work to grow the game of poker globally.”
The issue of Canadian operations was an important one, as Canadian-owned sites that weren’t operating on government-regulated provincial networks in Canada have had trouble offering real-money games in the country in the past. However, those concerns have been brushed aside, possibly due to the fact that PokerStars itself is regulated and headquartered in the Isle of Man. In addition, Day reiterated that the sale will make it much more likely for PokerStars to gain a license in New Jersey.
PokerStars Staff Remains Intact
Another major concern from players, expressed by many posters on the twoplustwo.com forums, is that PokerStars will change under new leadership. After all, some speculated, a privately run company might have more flexibility than a publicly held one that must respond to shareholder concerns.
But Day said that with most of the team remaining in place at PokerStars, few if any changes should be experienced by players.
“PokerStars and Full Tilt customer funds will continue to be held in segregated accounts, separate from operational funds, so you will know that your money is safe with us,” Day wrote. “The playing experience on both sites remains the same as it was yesterday. It is business as usual here at the Isle of Man office and at our other offices in Dublin, London, Paris, Malta, Costa Rica, and Sydney.”
There were also concerns that the loss of founders Mark and Isai Scheinberg would hurt the future direction of PokerStars. But Day said that their spirit survives in the staff that they brought on to operate the company.
“As some of you have surmised, our founders established the culture and values that permeate every decision and every customer interaction,” he wrote. “Though Mark and Isai are leaving, the culture and values remain, along with the nearly 2,000 staff who continue to turn our culture and values into action on a daily basis. Our entire leadership team is still in place, and I can assure you that we embrace these values whole heartedly.”
While Day’s focus was on reassuring players about the future of PokerStars, they weren’t the only group the company reached out to in the days after the acquisition was announced. PokerStars also talked to the Isle of Man to assure them that no jobs would be lost and that they would remain headquartered there, while staff at PokerStars received an email from CEO Mark Scheinberg to address how the sale might impact them.