David Baazov Discusses US Gaming Regulations and Amaya Gaming’s Growth
Amaya Gaming CEO David Baazov gave an interview this past week with Business News Network, a leading publication in Canada. Baazov, whose Toronto-based company purchased PokerStars and FullTilt Poker for $5 billion in August 2014, claimed that Amaya’s business continues to grow internationally, despite the lack of progress in getting PokerStars into the U.S. market again.
In the interview, David Baazov discussed the purchase of PokerStars, his company’s ability to repay debts on that $5 billion used to purchase Rational Media, an investigation by Quebecois security regulators, and regulations in the United States. The final topic is the issue most interesting to American gaming readers.
Amaya Gaming Heavily Licensed in US
Baazov said his company is heavily licensed in the United States, but Amaya continues to lobby for a more favorable regulatory environment. When pressed on the question, David Baazov offered statistics which proved his assertions.
Baazov mentioned, “Currently we have 60 [licenses] in the US…worldwide, we have over 100. And so I think that that’s going to continue to grow from a regulatory perspective and we’re going to get more licenses. But what we want to see is more jurisdictions embrace this, so that there’s responsible gaming.”
The CEO of Amaya Gaming went on to say that he, like most executives in the legitimate gaming industry, would prefer to see a detailed legal framework. Baazov added, “I think that a regulated environment is truly the best one.”
Why Amaya Gaming Lobbies
Lawful gaming companies want to see solid laws and understandable regulations. They are business people, no different than someone who sell technology, automobiles, or fast food. Baazov wants a predictable gaming environment, so he can make logical predictions about where the future of the industry is likely to be. He wants as few surprises as possible, and no surprise is worse than an unregulated gambling market, in which the state is likely to take privileges away rapidly and without warning.
The Canadian gaming executive continued, “We continuously lobby for more regulation, not just in the US, but in other jurisdictions as well.”
On the US Online Gaming Market
Speaking of the US market, he said, “More and more jurisdictions are regulating, so I’d say the US is a big market that we plan to be in. But what I think a lot of people don’t understand is that Amaya already has over 60 licenses in the US. So, we’re already more regulated in the US than any other iGaming company.”
When asked to predict how many American states would legalize online gambling in the next 5 years or suggest how many licenses Amaya Gaming would hold, Baazov would not elaborate. Such predictions are difficult to make, because they involve unforeseen factors. Instead, he replied that he simply wants to see the U.S. online gambling laws develop even further.
Baazov added, “We want to see a lot of states come on here [in the United States].”
Paying Back PokerStars Debt
David Baazov addressed concerns people might have about his company’s debt structure, given the fact that PokerStars had not entered the U.S. gaming market yet, almost 5 months after the world’s largest poker site was purchased by Baazov’s company. Baazov assured shareholders that his company was solid with its creditors, and he hinted at the direction the company might take in repaying its debts (in the abscence of US growth).
Baazov admitted that the United States is not an area of growth right now, though it might be soon. Baazov said, “Currently we’re not generating real money gaming revenue from the US. So the US is huge growth for us and I would say that we’re growing without it today.”
When asked to elaborate, he did not specify an area of growth, but Baazov did point to a sign of health for Amaya Gaming. He added, “We just announced a buyback of shares, actually, earlier in the week. Considering that we can announce a buyback of shares with our debt and our lenders are comfortable, I think it’s a very positive sign of our ability to repay it.“