Amaya in $4.9bn deal for Pokerstars

A man playing poker on a laptop computer Image copyright AP
Image caption Amaya will become the largest publicly owned online gaming company

Canadian online gaming group Amaya is to buy the owner of Pokerstars and Full Tilt Poker for $4.9bn (£2.8bn) in a deal that will make it the world's biggest publicly listed online gambling company.

The deal for Rational Group will be completed by 30 September, Amaya said.

PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker are the world's most popular and profitable online poker brands.

They have some 85 million registered players on desktop and mobile devices.

Amaya said it expects the deal will "expedite the entry of Pokerstars and Full Tilt Poker into regulated markets" in which it already operates, particularly the US.

Online gambling was in effect outlawed in the US until December 2011, when the Department of Justice (DOJ) backed a court decision that said a 1961 law banning interstate sports betting did not apply to other forms of gambling.

Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware offer some form of internet gambling, while eight other states considered legislation last year.

In 2011, federal prosecutors in Manhattan launched a massive crackdown against online poker in the US.

Pokerstars paid $731m in July 2012 to settle a money-laundering lawsuit filed by the DOJ, which argued that the firm used fraudulent means to avoid federal law and deceive banks into processing payments for it.

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