Amaya’s 2016 Q2 earnings call on Friday was jam-packed with news.
First was the announcement that former CEO David Baazov, who had temporarily stepped down as CEO after he was charged with insider trading earlier this year, has officially resigned from all positions. Baazov was still serving as a board member.
Interim CEO Rafi Ashkenazi was announced as the company’s new CEO.
Amaya also reported solid earnings during Q2, including on the poker side, a vertical that had been declining.
.@PokerStars says that the increase of rake (and VIP program) improved the revenue of 4%. First time in years that YoY is flat, no decrease
— Alexandre Dreyfus (@alex_dreyfus) August 12, 2016
Of note, Ashkenazi said the controversial rake and VIP changes didn’t have a “negative revenue impact from high revenue players.” On this same front, Ashkenazi said “bankrolls from recreational and casual players are lasting longer,” which was one of PokerStars’ stated reasons for the changes.
Of course, the changes also helped the company’s bottom line.
@alex_dreyfus Fun line for Stars enemies too "some of that 4% goes straight to the bottom line"
— Alun (@Poker_Hack) August 12, 2016
For a more comprehensive breakdown of the numbers from Amaya’s Q2 2016 earnings call you can read Joss Wood’s article at Online Poker Report.
On the US front, newly minted CEO Ashkenazi talked up the company’s ongoing efforts to open up more regulated US online gaming markets, and the possibility of new markets coming online in the not-so-distant future.
Ashkenzi spoke optimistically about the US online gambling landscape going forward, stating, “we have seen positive momentum in 2016 towards regulation in several large states,” likely referencing the current efforts in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and California, as well as the 2016 progress in New York on this front.
Making strides in New Jersey
He also boasted the company’s impact in the New Jersey online poker market.
According to Ashkenazi, PokerStars has helped the online poker market grow by 25 percent over the previous year during Q2, with PokerStars accounting for “approximately 44 percent of the real money online poker market, despite limited marketing.”
New Jersey poker initiatives
One of the more interesting announcements during the call was the revelation of a live poker tournament set to take place at Resorts Casino in late October.
“In addition to growing the overall market we’re demonstrating the synergies of combining online and live events,” Ahkenazi said. “We’ve just finalized an agreement with Resorts Casino Hotel, our partner in New Jersey, to host a PokerStars branded live poker tournament at Resorts in late October.”
Ashkenazi went on to say that there would be online qualifiers for the event at PokerStarsNJ.com, and noted the tournament’s potential to attract poker tourists, which has become an industry buzzword over the past several months.
Immediately after the announcement, Team PokerStars Pros took to social media to help drum up interest in the event.
It's been a long time since there was A LIVE @PokerStars tournament on US soil. October 29-November 6 sounds like a good time, doesn't it?
— Chris Moneymaker (@CMONEYMAKER) August 12, 2016
You can already play online @pokerstars in New Jersey. Now let's use real cards and chips!
Save the Date: Oct 29 – Nov 6 @ResortsCasino
— Jason Mercier (@JasonMercier) August 12, 2016
What to expect
The tournament announcement was short on specifics.
But from the sound of it, the main event of the tournament series will likely be a $3,500-$5,000 buy-in, and might be similar to PokerStars’ last attempt at a US poker tour, the short-lived PokerStars North American Poker Tour (NAPT), which came to a premature end during its second season thanks to Black Friday.
This will also be Resorts’, which lacks a poker room, first attempt at a major poker tournament, although it should be noted Resorts and PokerStars successfully collaborated on the Run It Up: Resorts Rumble event hosted by Team PokerStars Pro Jason Somerville shortly after PokerStars launched in New Jersey.
We’ll update you on the PokerStars-branded tournament series set to take place at Resorts from Oct. 29 – Nov. 6 when more details are revealed.