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The Significance of PokerStars Acquiring Bwin.Party

PokerStars Logo  Late last week some news broke that Amaya Gaming was very close to acquiring Bwin.Party, as an official bid was made after months of negotiations.  The ramifications from an acquisition like this are important, but without a closer look at the industry it might not be readily apparent why.  We will take a look at these reasons and what it means for players like you!

Amaya Gaming Set to Acquire Bwin.Party

Since PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker were acquired by Amaya Gaming, there has been a lot of hand wringing of hands going on in reference to how the site no longer cares about players and is only interested in profits.  While some of the early decisions did make this more of a fear, man of those initial decisions have been retracted or scaled back significantly.   This news is good for player on Bwin.Party, as they have some hope of not losing all the perks they currently enjoy.  If this deal does go through, which it is possible it might not, what does it actually mean for the poker industry?  What does it mean for Amaya?  Are players going to be left in a bad spot?  All of these question are important and can effect players on all sites, not just the ones in question.

PokerStars in the Regulated US Market

This is the most obvious of the results from this potential merger.  PokerStars has been shut out of the New Jersey regulated market thus far, and acquiring Bwin.Party would presumably end that.  Of course, as with my regulatory bodies in many countries, this isn’t a given though and only time would tell if PokerStars’ hopes of getting in to the New Jersey poker market would actually come to fruition. Having Bwin.Party as an already legal entity in the state of New Jersey though is likely to make this more of a forgone conclusion though.

The desire should be there from both side though, as New Jersey gaming revenues have not been as strong as what the government would have hoped.  Some of this can be attributed to a small player base, but many reports of bad software have also plagued the regulated market.  PokerStars would solve the bad software problem, and with such a trusted and recognizable name entering the fray, it should help attract players to a degree and increase the potential player base.  PokerStars obviously has a desire to move into the market, as it is just another market to gain revenue from with little change in what they are already doing in many European markets.

Is PokerStars too big of a Company?

When PokerStars acquired Full Tilt Poker they allowed the companies to run against one another, and not force a merger.  While that may sound like PokerStars is encouraging competition, even if it owns the same company, one should not be fooled. Necessarily.  The two brands have similar rewards structures, player bases and features.  If Amaya is successful in their bid for Bwin.Party, it is likely that they would allow the acquired sites to run on their own, but it would add another major competitor to the stable of Amaya and strengthen the monopoly PokerStars currently has on the industry.

The lack of competition only encourages Amaya to offer less rakeback rewards to players.  While it is unlikely that PokerStars would ever completely remove rewards, like some sites, the incentive to offer less than they previously have is there for sure.  Amaya, as well as every other poker company, is a business first and foremost, so offering rewards to players when you don’t need to isn’t something that is going to be high on their list of things to keep going.  This merger would only make it more possible that they could lower rewards.  We aren’t saying they will, but knowing that it is more possible is important, especially when looking forward to what changes they will make the SuperNova Elite in 2016.

Summary

Don’t interpret this article as saying the world is ending, or that PokerStars is going to start offering no rewards.  This article instead is designed to let you know what might happen with a possible merger like this, and why it might not be great for some players.  What are your thoughts on a merger like this?  DO you want to see it happen?  Tell us on Twitter or Facebook.