Amaya Gaming Group announced yesterday that it has struck a deal with the Golden Nugget Hotels and Casinos to provide the technology for Golden Nugget’s real money online gaming in the United States. This includes both Amaya’s poker and casino gaming software as well as its back-end solutions.
Amaya owns the Ongame Network, which it purchased from bwin.party about a year ago. Initial reports had the deal at $6.5 million to $8 million, but once the official announcement was made, the companies revealed that Amaya would pay a minimum of €15 million ($19.3 million) for Ongame. If online poker is legalized in the United States within five years, Amaya could tack on up to €10 million ($12.9 million) more, depending on how many states opt-in to the regulations and how many U.S. residents that covers.
While most poker players in the U.S. would normally applaud another poker deal between a casino and a technology provider, the poker community my balk at this move. This spring, Amaya Gaming hired former Absolute Poker mouthpiece Paul Leggett as its head of online gaming. Leggett served in several roles at the top of Absolute Poker, UB.com, and Tokwiro Enterprises, including CEO and COO. Leggett was in charge when details of the superuser cheating scandals broke at Absolute and UB and always claimed that he was doing everything he could to get to the bottom of things and help players. Secret recordings released in May of a meeting held by principles of UB seemed to indicate, though, that Leggett at the very least, knew a lot more about the cheating than he let on, even if he was not necessarily directly involved.
Regardless, Leggett is persona non grata in the minds of most online poker players for his involvement with some of the worst sites and worst people in the industry.
In a statement, Thomas Winter, VP of Online Gaming of Landry’s Inc., the parent company of Golden Nugget, said, “We intend to be a preferred early stage operator of real money online gaming as regulation progresses in the United States, initially in New Jersey and Nevada. To thrive in this market, we need to deliver a best-in-class online and mobile player experience. Amaya provides proven online casino games and a poker platform that deliver precisely what we need. Through this partnership we can supply exceptional and secure online entertainment, supported by the strong brand of our land-based casinos.”
Golden Nugget is one of five casinos to have been granted its online gaming license in the state of New Jersey, where intrastate online gambling is set to go live in a month. Amaya Gaming has yet to receive its license; both the casino and its technology provider must be licensed before their site can launch.