'let Pokerstars In,' Says 888 Chief

Allowing Pokerstars to compete in the US market will enhance the industry and give players more choice, says Mattingley

A top European online gambling executive, Brian Mattingley from 888 Holdings, has spoken out for his competition regarding entry to the legalised online gambling market in the United States, where legalisation proposals in some states contain "bad actor" clauses that are seen by many as protectionist moves by vested interests.

In a telephone interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal Wednesday, Mattingley opined that his company's rival Pokerstars should be permitted to apply and be granted licensing in those US states that have legalised online gambling following its acquisition by Amaya Gaming and the ownership changes that this would represent (see previous InfoPowa reports).

The Las Vegas Review Journal reminds its readers that Pokerstars forfeited $731 million to federal prosecutors in 2012 to settle a civil complaint in respect of its post-UIGEA activities in the USA after 2006.

The Rational Group, parent of Pokerstars and Full Tilt Poker, dominates the international online poker sector with a 54 percent market share and over 85 million registered players.

Mattingley's support for a rival in both Europe and the United States (888 has partnered with Caesars Interactive in operations in Nevada and New Jersey) is both professional and magnanimous… but it is also based on his view that such a formidable competitor in the US market would be good for the players and good for the industry.

"They are a formidable competitor," Mattingley said of Pokerstars. "But they would make all of us work much harder and it would expand the market. I would much rather have a small slice of a large pie, than a big piece of a small pie.

"It would be like unleashing an 800-pound gorilla into the market, but having more players on a regulated site would benefit everyone," the 888 executive said.

Rational Group is already positioned to move ahead in the United States if it is permitted to licence; the company has a strong Californian alliance with the Morongo tribal group and commercial cardrooms, and has a pending New Jersey partnership with the Resorts Casino Hotel land casino operator (see previous InfoPowa reports.)

Interestingly, during the Las Vegas Review Journal interview Mattingley revealed that his company has been discussing partnerships with several tribal groups in California, although these have not so far been finalised.

He also spoke against "bad actor" clauses as a means of excluding legitimate competition.

In related news, the Fitch Ratings Service has characterised the $4.9 billion Rational-Amaya deal as a game changer in the US market for online gambling.

Analyst Brian Bertsch seemed to share Mattingley's positive view of the involvement in the US market of Pokerstars, commenting that it would help grow the market and encourage more states to legalise online gambling, excluding unlicensed operators and providing better protection for American gamblers.

"PokerStars' database and brand recognition among poker players could lead to faster ramp-up in these newer markets and may reinvigorate markets where online poker is already legal, if these states reconsider PokerStars' application," Bertsch opined.

Online Casino News Courtesy of Infopowa

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