Amaya Gaming’s two Canadian-facing poker rooms, PlayNow and Espace Des Jeux, saw their traffic rocket by 43 percent in recent months, at one point last week almost reaching the level of their seasonal January peak. But no one quite knows why the normally sleepy Canadian Poker Network, comprising just these two poker rooms, has suddenly sprung into life.
The summer months are traditionally a time when the online poker market dips across the globe, and meanwhile neither site has launched any kind of promotion that might account for the surge in traffic. The recent report by industry number-crunchers PokerScout.com that the worldwide market has fallen by 13 percent further deepens the mystery.
The only answer can be that the increase in volume is a response to the large level of publicity Amaya has received following the announcement of its $4.9 billion buy-out of the Rational Group and its prize assets PokerStars and Full Tilt. And yet PlayNow and Espace Des Jeux are merely provincial gaming sites, based in British Columbia and Quebec, respectively, and only managed by Amaya on behalf of the provinces’ lottery operators, with no Amaya branding to speak of.
Maybe it’s just the alchemical “Amaya effect,” in that everything the company touches is transformed into a certain precious yellow metallic element these days. That may explain why, in ten years, Amaya has risen from being a small purveyor of electronic poker tables with a dream of supplying an SMS lottery service to “emerging markets,” to the world’s largest publicly held online gambling company, consuming gaming companies, from Chartwell to the Ongame Network in its wake, and absorbing their assets, as it grew and reinvented itself.
It’s not just Canadian Poker Network traffic figures that are soaring heavenwards; the recent news that the Rational Group acquisition has received regulatory approval from all jurisdictions where PokerStars and Full Tilt are licensed caused its shares to shoot up 14 percent to an all-time high, and CEO David Baazov, clearly not short of ambition, is looking for a second float on either the New York or London stock exchanges.
Poised for New Jersey Reentry
Meanwhile, murmurings from New Jersey suggest that things are moving quickly for Amaya there, where, according to sources, PokerStars and Full Tilt are likely to receive tentative regulatory approval to launch themselves into the market, with October 1 earmarked as a potential date.
In related news, rumors are also surfacing suggesting that Amaya has been in talks with Loto-Quebec, for whom it operates Espace Jeux, about possibly using the Loto-Quebec gaming license for a PokerStars platform, in order to boost traffic and revenue for the Province of Quebec. However, if the mysterious surge in traffic over the past few months is anything to go by, it may not need any help at all.