The Montreal-based headquarters of gambling software firm Amaya Gaming was raided by Canadian police this week, according to reports in the Canadian media.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Quebec’s financial market regulators Autorite des Marches Financiers carried out the surprise raid on the gaming firm this past Wednesday with insurance firm Manulife Financial and investment bank Canaccord Genuity also raided as part of the same investigation.
Amaya Gaming released a statement last night commenting that the investigation was in regards to trading activity related to the company’s $4.9 billion takeover of The Rational Group, along with its subsidiary poker sites PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, due to a surge in trading activity on Amaya’s stock at the time of the takeover. The company was quick to state that the investigation was set to have no impact on Amaya’s business operations, companies, or employees.
A statement from Amaya Gaming read “To the Corporation’s knowledge, this does not involve any allegations of wrongdoing by the Corporation. Amaya will continue to cooperate, if and as requested, consistent with our practice to always cooperate with regulatory authorities.”
However, further details regarding the raids have yet to be officially released leaving the gaming industry in fear that another episode similar to Black Friday in 2011, when a number of online poker sites were indicted on charges of fraud and money laundering, could be on the horizon.
In what feels like an echo of Black Friday, PokerStars appears to be at the centre of the investigation with Full Tilt Poker, another Amaya Gaming subsidiary, allegedly closely linked to the investigation.
There remains a shadow of concern over the legality of PokerStars’ Canadian-facing operations due to the fact that Canada’s own gambling monopolies have claimed for a number of months that they are the only groups with a legal right to offer online gambling to Canadian citizens. On the contrary, Loto-Quebec has been at odds with these claims and has been pushing for companies like PokerStars to have equal right to the Canadian market as these provincial gambling monopolies.
Interestingly, after Amaya Gaming took control of The Rational Group, PokerStars appeared to withdraw from a number of black and grey markets but did retain its interest in its Canadian-facing products. Speculation is rife that Canadian authorities are now looking to address this issue starting with the raids this week.
In addition, spokesperson for the Amaya Gaming-owned PokerStars, Eric Hollreiser, said it was “not appropriate for us to provide further details at this time”.