David Baazov’s Nasdaq listed Amaya went from an odd little Canadian company making seemingly senseless strategic decisions in an uncertain market to the champion of leveraged buy-outs and a potential savior of America’s favorite card game in a few scant months. Now his company is entering another gray area with imagined boundaries after his acquisition of fantasy sports company, Victiv.
Baazov’s entry into the global fantasy sports market may set pundits and analysts running for cover, depending on what he decides to do with the company to be called StarsDraft. It may also be a move to set precedence in the ongoing brouhaha over whether poker is a game of skill or chance. Bazzov’s company has the industry and financial presence to either take on giants such as DraftKings or FanDuel and compete with new contender Yahoo, or become just another vehicle to be sold off later at massive profit while he wiggles his way with jumps and starts to the top of the gambling industry.
Nobody knows the mind of the man who seems to pull rabbits out of his hat except possibly his closest adviser and brother in arms, Daniel Sebag; both of whom have been investigated by the Quebec Securities regulator (AMF) as well as a self-regulating body in U.S. financial markets (FINRA) for insider trading after stock prices shot through the roof upon his acquisition of Full Tilt and PokerStars.
StarsDraft will launch in September with payouts of at least $15,000 to players that take more pride in besting their competitors than relishing cash rewards, as evidenced by the fact that many participants devote timeless energies to their passion and consider winnings simply proof of their prowess at the game. Fantasy sports allows a housewife in Iowa the same level playing field as a Wall Street executive, and introduces a new fold in the argument of skill versus chance.
The StarsDraft launch will coincide with the NFL betting season and offer access to Euro soccer prognostication, much to the chagrin of those that may prefer others to follow their own agendas related to so-called moral values. Select U.S. markets will be able to access the site which will later be added to the PokerStars gaming platform.
Regardless of Amaya’s intentions, one thing is certain, David Baazov is no dummy. His entry into the gray area of fantasy sports betting is a clarion call that the pastime, legal by specific legislation in many U.S. states, will rattle chains and add an element of uncertainty to an industry dominated by lottery casinos, Vegas icons, and a waning online casino market that doesn’t know which way to turn after the current Justice department upheld years of court decisions confirming that the Wire Act of 1961 applies only to sports betting – effectively nullifying the unlawful internet gaming enforcement act.
Will StarsDraft be the first outside of New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware to take American money under new money processing codes that allow MasterCard and others to legally process gambling transactions, or is it simply another wise investment to be spun off or rolled over later? Only time will tell.