Based on a handful of anonymous sources and third-party Twitter posts, the valuation of the pending deal between PokerStars and the United States Department of Justice is $750 million. For that amount, Stars will be able to purchase Full Tilt in its entirety (including the debt owed to players), and resolve its own illegal-gambling cases with the United States.
Several reports point to the same general conclusion, from a “deal is done” post at Wicked Chops, to the as-promised further explanation at Diamond Flush of how the Groupe Tapie bid for Full Tilt’s software and rest-of-world player accounts fell apart. Toss in Tapie’s own sour-grapes denunciation that specifically mentions PokerStars (posted last time out), and a handful of Tweets, including one from ChiliPoker CEO Alex Dreyfus that cited the $750 million figure, and it’s clear there’s plenty of meat on the bone.
Stars remains discreet on the matter, with a brief “wait and see” message from the company’s Head of Corporate Communications, Eric Hollresier, appearing yesterday. The link is for kindliness but Hollresier’s message is brief enough that we’ll just copy and paste:
We’ve had a lot of enquiries and there’s lots of speculation on the forums, so I wanted to address the PokerStars chatter. As you know, PokerStars is in settlement discussions with the U.S. Department of Justice. As such settlement discussions are always confidential, we are unable to comment on rumors. As soon as we have information to share publicly we will do so.
The discussions, therefore, are confirmed, and what’s likely going on now are the building or repayment schedules that everyone involved finds acceptable. It’s all very good news for affected players.
$750 million sounds like a lot of money, but it’s really not out of the ballpark considering the potential value of the US market and the existing settlements between the DOJ and PartyGaming and Party’s co-founder, Anurag Dikshit, which amounted to $400 million or so. Nor does this mean that Stars will soon be reopening to US players as it once existed; there are plenty of legal hurdles in the way of that.
What it does mean is that Stars is likely back in play as a software/service provider, possibly partnering up with someone like Wynn as soon as Nevada’s online network gets rolling, with either more states or a federally regulated framework the next step. For those not remembering, Wynn and Stars already had a deal in place, allegedly agreed to between Steve Wynn and Isai Scheinberg on Scheinberg’s yacht, somewhere in the Mediterranean, but that early-2011 deal was scuttled following the Black Friday indictments. Look for Scheinberg to step away from any US-facing portion of PokerStars while remaining firmly in control behind the scenes, pretty much exactly the same way Calvin Ayre is with Bovada/Bodog.
Timeframes for the next steps to happen? The rest-of-world stuff will happen before the US stuff is straightened out, and the ROW work will take a few months. It is, as we’ve all painfully experienced, an ongoing process. Yet the return on meaningful online poker moves ever closer….