More than just a poker company: Amaya grows its sports and online gambling divisions

  • Company behind PokerStars brand sees growth in online casino and sportsbook
  • Plans to grow activities further to provide players a ‘truly competitive product’

Mention the word ‘Amaya’ and those in the know will reply ‘PokerStars’. The world’s largest card room and its parent company are synonymous with poker wagering.

Amaya online casino
Amaya sees growth in its online casino and sportsbook activities

At least that’s how it’s traditionally always been. When Amaya began to make tentative forays into the sports betting and online casino market 18 months ago, many thought poker would remain it’s best known game, but the company’s latest figures reveal it’s seen significant growth in other areas of its business.

Sportsbook success

Despite its poker revenue declining in the last quarter of 2016, Amaya enjoyed income that was up 6% on the same period a year previously. If poker revenue has been declining as a percentage of overall revenue, it doesn’t take a genius to deduce where the extra income came from. In particular, Amaya has enjoyed notable success with its online casino and sportsbook, the latter branded as BetStars in keeping with its PokerStars nomenclature.

“We don’t really consider it to be a truly competitive sportsbook right now,” says Amaya’s Vice President of Corporate Communications, Eric Hollreiser. “We are doing what we need to do to make sure it becomes that. When we think about the business, we’re very good at acquiring customers through poker at a very cost-effective rate and getting significant lifetime value from them.”

More players using online casino

As it stands, Amaya has big plans for its online casino and sports betting arm, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see further acquisitions as the business seeks to grow its market share.

“Part of the reason we got into casino is we saw 30-40% of poker players were playing online casino, and obviously not with us, because we didn’t have one,” explained Hollreiser. “We did that through an evolution of the product and making the online casino product much more competitive, which we are just now emerging as what we consider a truly competitive product. We see our casino becoming an acquisition arm, which has even greater potential with the sportsbook.”

While Amaya continues to grow its online casino and sports betting divisions globally, it is holding out hope for a sea change in US policy regarding sportsbooks. If that were to happen, expect to find Amaya in the queue for online sports betting licenses in the US.

From the perspective of Amaya’s existing customers, a large proportion of whom are poker players, there are obvious reasons why they might seek to wager at other ‘Stars’ sites.

Aside from the trust they already have in the brand, there’s the reassurance that comes from knowing all of Amaya’s rewards schemes will soon be synchronised across its various divisions. If you know your way around the PokerStars rewards system, the learning curve for following suit with BetStars will be non-existent once Amaya has finished rolling out the new-look scheme. For Amaya players and shareholders alike, the future is looking very bright indeed.


There’s never been a better time for online casinos, as the industry experiences ongoing growth and players are faced with an abundance of new and exciting ways to wager online. Indeed, from Amaya’s perspective, online casino and sportsbook activity accounted for nearly 26% of its revenue in the last quarter of 2016 – and that’s a big figure. It comes at a time when many suggest poker is in decline. Whether that is true remains to be seen; Amaya has indicated it is still focused on poker but its efforts to grow its online casino and sportsbook activities are telling. For players it highlights a great time for online casinos, one that is providing bigger and better online experiences every day. And if Amaya’s casino and sportsbook brands become anywhere near as successful as PokerStars, well, that’s something for everyone to look forward to.

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