Jordan Sturdy, a British Columbia MLA found himself under heavy criticism this week after his updated public disclosure statements were picked up by Business in Vancouver on Tuesday. As the portal reports, among his several new investments, the Liberal Assembly member also bought shares in the Amaya Corporation, in December 2015.
Amaya Inc. is one of the biggest online gambling companies in the world with headquarters in Montreal, Quebec. The company is publicly listed and traded on the Toronto Stock exchange (AYA:CN) and (NASDAQ: AYA), which makes the purchase of its stock completely legal. However, what did cause the criticism wasn’t the legality of the transaction, but the opposition that Sturdy’s investment implies against BC’s own regulatory body – the Gaming Policy Enforcement Branch (GPEB).
The only gambling site legalized by the GPEB is the PlayNow site which is owned and operated by the BC Lottery Corporation. One of the biggest competitors to PlayNow are Amaya’s child companies Poker Stars and Full Tilt, despite not being officially approved by the GPEB to operate in British Columbia. The GPEB has been trying to protect the Lottery’s monopoly against intrusion from competitor sites for quite some time now, which made Sturdy’s investment a clean target for criticism.
David Eby, a member of the assembly from the New Democratic Party commented that Sturdy had demonstrated “poor judgment” when he decided to get mixed up with a gambling corporation that is in a “grey market” area. He adds that he can’t understand why the Assembly member would believe that any profit from such activities would be “appropriate”
But despite the clash with GPEB’s policies, Sturdy’s investment might be considered risky for other reasons as well. Even though Amaya has held a strong grip on the market, the value of its stock has been oscillating wildly, especially during the past months when a series of scandals hit the corporation.