In case you haven't heard, David Baazov recently made a bid to buy Amaya, Inc for a price of $2.6 billion.
The former CEO has put together a team of investors and plans to take the company private again.
However, one must wonder how a buyout of Amaya would impact the company's ability to bring PokerStars into the California market. After all, his legal troubles were the catalyst that reignited the bad actor debate in 2016.
California will have to address the PokerStars issue at some point in 2017 and below are three ways things could go should Baazov succeed in purchasing Amaya.
Move Could Embolden California to Stick With Ban
One possible outcome is that California lawmakers decide to move forward with plans to include a ban on bad actors similar to the one in the 2016 bill. That stipulation would require that PokerStars stay out of the California iPoker market for five years.
Some tribes argued that the 5-year ban wasn't enough and that the ban should be 5 years from when the first bet is taken online. PokerStars was seeking a way to get around the ban, possibly by paying an extra fee.
When this didn't happen PokerStars and the Poker Players Alliance spoke out against lawmakers and vowed to fight the ban. Suddenly, they have flipped the script and are now being seen as obstructionist much in the same way that Pechanga had been for years.
California Could Exclude PokerStars Completely
While this hasn't been floated as an option there is a chance that lawmakers could decide to completely eliminate bad actors (meaning PokerStars) from the market altogether. One could argue that they have grounds due to the fact that Baazov is facing insider trading charges connected to the sale of Amaya.
When the NJ Department of Gaming Enforcement agreed to give PokerStars a license, it was as a lengthy investigation that required all those connected to the former PokerStars regime to be terminated. While this isn't the case, one could argue that the charges make Baazov and company look unscrupulous, even if proven otherwise.
California May Require New Vetting Process Before Allowing PokerStars In
Yet another option would be to throw out everything that has been collected in terms of investigations into PokerStars and start a new process once Baazov and company take ownership of Amaya.
That would seem to be the proper course of action with everything considered. This way, everything from the sale of PokerStars to Amaya to the sale of Amaya to Baazov could be investigated with the goal of proving whether the company has the character needed to provide services in California.
Don't Expect the Matter to Be Resolved in 2018
Regardless of what happens on a legislative front regarding iPoker regulation, don't expect a final decision on PokerStars to be made anytime soon. There are just too many unknowns and potential loose threads for California to allow the World's Largest Poker Site into the state.
Even if a ban doesn't happen, we can still expect an extensive investigation into PokerStars, meaning that it will be 2018 or even later before PokerStars will be approved or denied a license. Of course, this is assuming iPoker regulation is passed in 2017.