NEW YORK — Amaya Gaming Group Inc. is buying the owner and operator of the PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker brands in a $4.9 billion deal.
Canada’s Amaya said the deal with privately held Oldford Group Ltd., the Isle of Man-based parent company of Rational Group Ltd., will make it the biggest publicly traded online operator of casino games.
PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker have more than 85 million registered players on desktop and mobile devices. Online poker services provided by PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker will not be affected by the transaction.
PokerStars and Full Tilt ran into some trouble in April 2011 when the U.S federal government seized their websites and charged executives at the companies and people that move money for them with fraud and money laundering. In July 2012 PokerStars reached a settlement agreement with the Justice Department in which it agreed to pay the government $547 million over three years. At the time the company said that the money was to be used in part to reimburse former U.S. customers of Full Tilt Poker, whose assets PokerStars had acquired.
Amaya said late Thursday it believes the acquisition will expedite the entry of PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker into regulated markets in which it already has a footprint, especially the U.S.
The boards of Amaya and Oldford unanimously approved the deal. Amaya doesn’t anticipate making any changes to its board related to the transaction.
The deal is expected to close by Sept. 30. It needs the approval of Amaya shareholders, who will vote at its rescheduled annual meeting, now set for July 30.