David Baazov Discusses PokerStars and Full Tilt’s Future in Conference Call
David Baazov had a conference call this last week to discuss Amaya Inc. second quarter financial results. During the conference call, he said that Amaya’s expansion into its new gaming sites should benefit online poker players who already play at PokerStars and Full Tilt.
Baazov said the company’s online casino and sports books should increase the liquidity for PokerStars and Fult Tilt Poker. Expanding into Internet casino and bookmaker sites will drive more customers to PokerStars and Full Tilt, while also bringing more players to their sister websites in the casino and sports gambling niches.
50% of Poker Players Enjoy “Vertical” Gaming
David Baazov said that half of all existing poker players enjoy other forms of gambling (“additional verticals”), so combining Amaya’s different gaming sites under the Rational Group brand name should help businesses, while also giving their players benfits. If done right, Rational Group should retain most of its customers, due to Rational’s loyalty program.
Once everything is united, players will be able to earn loyalty points on a single gaming platform. A sports bet or a game of craps will earn rewards points just like a session of poker on PokerStars. These can be combined, so the betters will be more likely to remain loyal to the Rational Group’s various gaming websites.
PokerStars Live Tournaments
Mr. Baazov says he also plans to expand the PokerStars brand into the land-based live events and poker rooms. It was announced earlier this month that PokerStars would sponsor the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open. The Seminole Poker Open event is the first example of others to follow.
Once again, the brick-and-mortar side of the business can be used to provider PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker players with more options, advantages, and incentives. In the case of the Seminole Hard Rock Open, players were able to purchase entry into the Main Event through the PokerStars online site, using funds in their player account.
Full Tilt Casino
Full Tilt launched casino games in January 2014, but its exposure to the existing player base at the virtual card room has remained fairly low. The company chose not to promote the casino site in any significant way. Apparently, Full Tilt wanted to work through the bugs and make sure their casino product had high quality standards, before they began promoting the site.
According to Baazov, Amaya soon will be “scaling up” its promotional efforts for the casino games to the Rational Group’s player base. The same will happen for Rational’s mobile sites, too.
Launching in New Jurisdictions in Q4
PokerStars plans launches into new regulated jurisdictions in the 4th Quarter of 2014 and throughout 2015. PokerStars casino games will be launched in Spain and Italy within the next year. Full Tilt is expected to have a higher distribution, too.
Amaya Gaming wants to restrict these launches to regulated markets. David Baazov believes this offers better protection to the company’s customer base. It also helps establish a better “overall health and legitimacy” of the online gambling industry.
Regulations does a number of things for players. It helps with fraud and money laundering protections, while regulation helps eliminate collusion and provides fund protection in most cases–which is a perennial problem for online gamblers. Overall, Amaya sees regulation as a great aid to overall game integrity, which is good for business.
Latin American Growth
Latin American is a region where PokerStars could target in the future. This does not entirely dovetail with recent actions by PokerStars, since some of their biggest Latin American sponsored professionals (such as Humerto Brenes) have been released.
PokerStars Sports Betting
Baazov sees 2015 as the proper time to expand into sports betting for PokerStars. The product is being developed in-house at present, though it is not quite ready for launch.
Despite the work on a PokerStars sports betting client, this does not exclude Amaya Inc. licensing other sports gambling software in the future. No such plans are in motion to do so at the moment, but this does not imply an unwillingness to expand in that direction.
About the sports betting product being developed, Amaya expects it to be popular with its customers. Baazov mentioned that, during the World Cup, PokerStars showed a significant decrease in traffic during specific matches. When the halftime breaks of those matches came, the traffic spiked. This should be taken as a good reason for PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker to expand into Internet bookmaker sites.