PokerStars may have found a way to get back into the U.S. online gaming market.
Bloomberg News is reporting that Amaya Gaming is nearing a deal to purchase PokerStars, citing two sources with knowledge of the situation. And OnlinePokerReport.com reports an announcement is expected tomorrow .
The potential deal was first reported by CalvinAyre.com on May 24, but talks of an acquisition ramped up Thursday morning, when Amaya's stock price surged nearly 30 percent before trading was halted.
Blackstone Group's credit business, GSO Capital Partners, is providing Amaya more than $1 billion in financing for the deal, according to Bloomberg.
The move opens the door for PokerStars to potentially enter the U.S., initially in New Jersey, where Amaya is already licensed to operate. The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) suspended PokerStars' New Jersey application in December, citing company founder Isai Scheinberg's unresolved federal indictment for his alleged violation of the Illegal Gambling Business Act and the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. In 2012, PokerStars agreed to pay $731 to settle a range of money-laundering charges with the U.S. Department of Justice.
If Amaya terminates Scheinberg's relationship with PokerStars, that could clear PokerStars' path to New Jersey. PokerStars had a partnership arrangement with Resorts Casino before its license application was suspended.
Dan Podheiser has covered the gambling industry since 2013, but he has been an avid poker player for more than a decade, starting when he was just 14 years old. When he turned 18, he played online poker regularly on U.S.-friendly sites until Black Friday in April 2011. Follow him on Twitter @danpodheiser.