Amaya Gaming transitions Poker Sites to All-Around Entertainment

When Amaya Gaming purchased PokerStars and Full Tilt in 2014, it seemed like they would continue guiding the reigns of the world’s most-popular online poker rooms. But now it’s clear that Amaya isn’t interested so much in poker as they are the customer bases that PokerStars and Full Tilt have.

The Canadian-based company has recently undertaken a number of measures that go against the grain of poker traditionalism. First off, they introduced Spin & Go’s, which are just as much lottery as they are poker games. Then Amaya rolled out casino games at both Stars and Full Tilt in an obvious move to appeal to non-poker players. And their latest move involves cutting all VIP benefits to $5/$10 No-Limit Hold’em and Pot-Limit cash-game tables. The latter decision reveals that Amaya is no longer interested in catering to the professional poker player, who won’t receive any benefits for mid-stakes and high-stakes play.

So what’s next for the company that has been turning online poker on its head? According to their third-quarter conference call, they are seeking to blend poker with video gaming in the near future.

“Towards further growing the poker category, we continued to invest in R&D efforts to fill our product pipeline with innovative new poker products aimed at bridging the gap between real-money gaming and the skilled video gaming and social gaming market,” said David Baazov, Amaya’s CEO. “Along with acquiring new poker players, we are also committed to improving the overall experience for all poker players. To that end, PokerStars has announced a comprehensive plan to enhance the playing experience, and to re-emphasize the fun and social aspects of online poker, while attracting and retaining more players to the game.”

A year and a half ago, Baazov convinced some of Wall Street’s biggest players to put billions of dollars towards buying PokerStars and Full Tilt from the Rational Group. It was a huge risk that, for the most part, looks to be paying dividends right now. But Baazov and his team continue heading into risky territory with their facelift of Stars and Full Tilt.

Will moving away from their primary customer base into more all-around entertainment pay off in the long run? It’s tough to tell, but given the stagnating nature of online poker these days, Amaya’s current strategy is the best for future growth.