Amaya Renaming To The Stars Group, Moving To Toronto

Posted on May 15, 2017 - Last Updated on December 22, 2020

[toc]Amaya, the parent company of PokerStars, is changing its name to The Stars Group, Inc. It is also relocating its headquarters to Toronto, Canada.

Currently based in Montreal, Amaya shareholders gave their approval for the name change to take effect from next month.

“As we undergo this transformation, we look to embrace the future of our business while also recognizing the incredible consumer goodwill and loyalty associated with our primary brand,” said CEO Rafi Ashkenazi.

Chief Financial Officer Daniel Sebag announced his retirement. Amaya will move its Montreal headquarters to Toronto once the company finds a replacement.

Amaya keeps shifting focus to casino and sports betting

Ashkenazi replaced founder and former CEO David Baazov after the latter stepped down from his role last year. Baazov resigned following charges of insider trading relating to the company’s $5 billion takeover of The Rational Group in 2014.

Since then, Amaya has been refocusing on casino games and sports betting. Prior to the takeover, PokerStars’ focus was poker. Now, over 30 percent of Amaya revenue comes from non-poker sources.

In the first quarter of this year, Amaya saw a 10 percent year-on-year increase in revenues with $317.3 million and $66.75 million in earnings, up from $288.5 million and $55.5 million last year.

Amaya trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange. At time of writing, the price is at CA$26.49 per share.

David Baazov’s fraud charges gave Amaya a bad name

Baazov, the founder and former chairman and CEO of Amaya, resigned his role after being charged with multiple counts of insider trading and fraud relating to Amaya’s takeover of PokerStars and other operations.

Baazov founded Amaya in Montreal. The company was a fairly minor online casino software owner and provider for many years. Then, in June 2014, it bought the parent company of PokerStars in a then record-breaking $4.9 billion takeover. This made Amaya the world’s largest public online gaming company.

Baazov announced his intention to buy Amaya as a private company. However, had his bid rejected after Canadian security regulators charged him with several crimes less than a year after the Rational takeover.

Baazov quickly took an indefinite leave of absence from his position as CEO and chairman, resigning his position in August. Early last month, Baazov sold off over CA$330 million in Amaya stock at CA$19 per share.

While no reason has been given for the name change and office relocation, it is not outrageous to speculate that this could well be an attempt to distance the company from Baazov.

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Matt Perry

A veteran of the online gambling industry, Matt Perry has worn a number of hats since he first began working in online poker and iGaming in 2007. He currently writes for a variety of publications focused on legal online gambling, and in the past has served as an editor, copywriter, content manager and reporter.

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