Amaya Gaming Group

by Shane Rivers on February 19th, 2015.

Founded on January 1st, 2004, the Amaya Gaming Group is a publically traded company on the Canadian Stock Exchange that provides services and products for slot machine software, lotteries, online poker and casinos, and sportsbooks. The company has offices all over the globe, including Asia, North America, Europe, and Latin America.

This article is designed to provide some basic information about the Amaya Gaming Group, from the history of the company to details about their work environment. We'll also devote a section to CEO David Baazov, a man who's made an indelible impression on the gaming industry at such a young age.

History of Amaya Gaming Group

Amaya Gaming GroupFollowing its debut in 2004, the Amaya Gaming Group largely focused on electronic table games that allowed users to remotely enjoy the thrill of bingo, horse racing, and even Majong. The Canadian-based company then expanded their operations in 2010 and 2011, striking deals to expand their influence into the field of online gambling.

The biggest of these moves involved the Betting Control and Licensing Board of Kenya, which allowed customers to buy lottery tickets on their phones and charge the purchase to their mobile account. During the same time period, a series of similar arrangements were made with the governments of the Dominican Republic and Uganda.

In May of 2011, it was announced that Amaya would purchase the struggling Chartwell Technologies, which makes online casino games, for about $23 million. Despite a strong showing in 2008, Chartwell had struggled with currency charges and increasing debt, and their stock had fallen to $0.62 cents per share in 2010.

2012 saw Amaya make another major purchase, this time in the form of CryptoLogic. One of the oldest names in the fields of payment processing and Internet gaming platforms, they were acquired in a cash for shares takeover amounting to $35.8 million.

Two years later, Amaya sold off CryptoLogic's subsidiary company, WagerLogic, for $70 million. This sale included gambling sites such as InterBingo, InterPoker, and InterCasino.

September of 2012 also included another acquisition by Amaya, this time involving gaming provider Cadillac Jack. This deal was valued at $167 million, and it served to advance Amaya's penetration into the U.S. market, as well as expanding Cadillac Jack's reach into Canada and Europe.

The following month, Amaya once again added to its expanding portfolio by buying the Stockholm-based Ongame, a B2B poker network owned by bwin.party. The deal was valued at $32.2 million and allowed Amaya to immediately establish itself as a leading provider of gaming platforms.

In 2013, Amaya received several honors from the Cantech Letter, an online magazine that focuses on the life science and cleantech sectors, as well as companies listed on the TSX Venture Exchange and Toronto Stock Exchange. The company received the award for TSX Venture Tech Stock of the Year, and CEO David Baazov was awarded TSX Venture Tech Executive of the Year.

Prior to 2013, Amaya had been listed on the TSX Venture Exchange, which is a public venture capital marketplace for companies on the rise. A short time later, they graduated to the Toronto Stock Exchange, which is the seventh largest stock exchange in the world.

At the beginning of 2014, Amaya once again scored big at the fourth annual Cantech Letter awards. The company was named TSX Tech Stock of the Year, while David Baazov was honored as the TSX Tech Executive of the Year.

The following month, Amaya announced that it had completed its acquisition of Diamond Game Enterprises, a manufacturer and designer of products for the lottery and casino gaming industries. With Diamond offering over 2,000 machines in 20 Native American jurisdictions and 10 states/provinces, the purchase further solidified the company's intention of becoming a major player in the U.S. gaming market.

During its years of expansion, Amaya has managed to assemble an impressive board of directors. These include the following individuals:

Ben Soave - Intelligence consultant and former Chief Superintendent for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Daniel Sebag - Chief Financial Officer for Amaya.

Aubrey Zidenberg – Received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2013 for service to community and country.

David Baazov - CEO and Chairman of Amaya.

Attorney Harlan Goodson – Once served as the director for California's Division of Gambling Control. In 2012, he was named Attorney of the Year for Gaming Law in Northern California.

Divyesh Gadhia - Former CEO for Gateway Casinos and Entertainment Incorporated. Also a recipient of the Canadian Gaming News Outstanding Achievement Award.

Wesley Clark – Retired General of the United States Army, the Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO from 1997 to 2000, and a former candidate for President of the United States. Clark is also a writer, educator, businessman, and commentator.

Amaya Buys Pokerstars

The Amaya Gaming Group made their biggest splash in company history in June of 2014. That's when it was announced that they would be purchasing the Oldford Group, the world's largest online poker company. Oldford is the parent company to Rational Group Ltd., and the company owns both Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars, with a total client base of over 85 million players.

Amaya paid $4.9 billion to complete the deal, allowing them to become the world's largest publically traded gambling company in the process. This positioned them on the front lines of an industry that's expected to be worth $42 billion by 2018.

Prior to the deal, Rational had made attempts to regain their footing in the U.S. market following the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. The presence of founder Isai Scheinberg, however, had led to continual problems, specifically because he was still under indictment in the United States on charges of money laundering, illegal gambling, and bank fraud. In 2012, PokerStars had also paid $731 million to resolve a civil suit with the Justice Department.

In addition to taking control of Rational's live poker events and televised poker programming, it also put Amaya in a prime position to enter the American market thanks to the passage of laws allowing online gambling as long as the player is within the boundaries of a specific state. Nevada and New Jersey are the most prominent states to ratify these laws, with Delaware also on the list of potential online markets.

Working for Amaya Gaming

Amaya prides itself on creating a productive and profitable environment for employees, and online feedback would seem to confirm this. A recent search of a leading company review site shows that 56% of employees approved of their experience with Amaya.

According to available data, Amaya pays anywhere from $62,000 to $68,000 for a Java developer, while a QA engineer gets between $63,000 and $67,000. In the case of the Java developer, the first stage of the interview process takes place via email and requires the candidate to refactor source codes in order to meet new requirements. The next stage is a face-to-face interview with two developers and a manager, with questions skewing towards the technical side of the business.

As far as the overall experience of being employed by Amaya, here are 10 pros and 10 cons. Keep in mind that these are opinions posted online, so they are likely to be influenced by a number of factors besides the cold, hard truth. Still, it should provide an idea of what it's like to work for Amaya.

Pros:

  • Team atmosphere
  • A chance to contribute to worthwhile projects
  • Employees feel valued
  • Stock appreciates quickly
  • Fast-paced work environment full of challenges
  • Competitive pay
  • Convenient office location
  • Benefits include discounted gym membership and free breakfast
  • Quality mentors for new employees
  • Teams are given a great deal of freedom to decide how to complete a project

Cons:

  • Lack of documented strategy
  • Poor communication
  • Larger projects require employees to work long hours
  • Human resources department does not hold exit interviews to improve employee retention
  • Concern about employment stability
  • Stressful environment when trying to meet large client deadlines
  • Culture of cronyism exists
  • Frequent layoffs
  • Lack of mentors to assist new employees
  • Lack of competitive pay

Amaya CEO David Baazov

Now that we've learned about the employee experience at Amaya, let's look at the man who's on the top of the company totem pole. I'm talking about David Baazov, an executive wunderkind who serves as President, CEO, Treasurer, and Secretary. All this is even more impressive when you consider that he hasn't even celebrated his 40th birthday.

Baazov first gained experience in the computer industry when he went to work for Vortek Systems, a computer hardware supplier and distributor, during the dot-com crash in 2000. He worked with the company for the next six years, serving as the vice president of sales.

He accepted a position with the Amaya Gaming Group in 2006, seeing online poker as the future of the gaming industry. During his tenure, he has presided over a number of major acquisitions. In addition to his responsibilities with Amaya, Baazov serves as the Chairman of the Board and CEO of Cadillac Jack, the CEO of CryptoLogic Limited, and the CEO and President of Chartwell Technology.

A number of accolades have followed his success with Amaya. He's received multiple awards from Canadian online magazine Cantech Letter, as well as being voted to the online gaming Hot 50 in 2011.


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