INSIDE GAMING: AMAYA POISED FOR NASDAQ LISTING, BUT ITS WEB GAMING PRODUCTS STILL BEYOND REACH

On Monday, American stock speculators will be able to buy shares of Internet gaming giant Amaya Inc. on NASDAQ.

Meanwhile, American online poker players still can’t place wagers through the company’s most popular product.

So go the trials and tribulations of Montreal-based Amaya.

After spending $4.9 billion last summer to acquire Rational Group — the parent company ofPokerStars.com and Full Tilt Poker — Amaya has become an important fixture in Internet gaming. And the company wants to expand its footprint.

Last month, Amaya said it would team with sports wagering group GVC Holdings and will submit a bid to acquire global online gaming operator bwin.party digital entertainment.

The dual listing on an American-based stock exchange (Amaya is already traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange) is happening almost four months ahead of company predictions. It also gives Amaya, which will have the ticker AYA on Nasdaq, a slice of positive news following reports this spring that its purchase of PokerStars and Full Tilt is the subject of an insider trading investigation in Quebec.

“Amaya has always been confident that it would be cleared of any wrongdoing,” Eilers Research gaming analyst Adam Krejcik said. “Gaining a listing on a major exchange like the Nasdaq sends a message to investors. On a level, it signals that things are OK on the regulatory front.”

Amaya CEO David Baazov told Canada’s Globe and Mail that the NASDAQ listing “will provide greater visibility and better liquidity for our stock and help broaden our shareholder base.”

What would also help is earning a seat at the American Internet gaming table.

Amaya has a deal to launch a PokerStars website in New Jersey in conjunction with Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City. Part of the deal includes a PokerStars-branded poker room inside the Boardwalk casino. During quarterly earnings conference calls in March and May, Baazov predicted a launch by the fall.

Amaya already supplies online games to several Atlantic City casinos. PokerStars has been an issue after its previous ownership paid $731 million settlement to federal prosecutors in 2012 to make criminal and civil illegal online gaming charges disappear.

Amaya’s purchase of Rational Group was viewed as a cleansing action for PokerStars, which operated illegally in the United States until 2011. Outside the United States, PokerStars and FullTilt control 66 percent of the global online poker traffic. A New Jersey website would immediately attract more players.

New Jersey approval seemed imminent last fall, but regulators never took up the license application.

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