Last week, many of Amaya-PokerStars’ affiliate contract holders received email notification that their respective agreement with PokerStars will be terminated within seven days upon receipt of the written notice. Accordingly, the notification did not include an explanation about the poker company’s unexpected announcement, except for citing PokerStars’ right to terminate such agreements at its discretion, but subject to a 7-day prior notice.
The announcement came close at the heels of the recent dropping of several PokerStars-sponsored players from the Team PokerStars Pro in the likes of Humberto Brenes, Joe Cada, Jose Barbero, Angel Guillen, Alex Krevchenko and Marcel Luske. The players concerned though graciously accepted the contract termination; thus, not much was written about this particular PokerStars management decision.
However, the reaction over the affiliate termination issues was not as placid, since some of the affected affiliates have aired negative sentiments claiming that the Amaya-Rational Group merger had placed them at the losing end of the acquisition deal. Some suggested that the external financial support, which Amaya secured in order to complete the PokerStars buyout has constrained the Canadian gaming company to cut costs, at the expense of PokerStars affiliates.
Others view the online casino’s decision as in line with a strategy for countering the effects of the forthcoming implementation of UK’s Place of Consumption (PoC) Tax. As it is, the new tax will impose an additional burden of having to pay 15 percent duty on all revenue generated from offering products and services to UK-based players. The affiliates who hold such view claim that they have brought in quite a number of UK players to the PokerStars site and that the termination of their agreement coincides with the original October 01 commencement date of the POC implementation.
In an interview conducted by the Poker News Daily, Rational Group Head of Corporate Communication for PokerStar Eric Hollreiser, asserted that the cost cutting contention is not true since the affiliate termination decision was in line with a marketing strategy.
Another member of the PokerStars Communication Group, Michael Josem, posted a forum reply to the numerous exchanges about the affiliate termination notice. He conveyed that the decision to terminate a “very small number of affiliate agreements” was the result of the company’s regular review of the thousands of affiliate marketing agreements contracted with third- party website owners. The agreement includes a commitment to promote PokerStars’ services to fresh players as well as encourage playing at PokeStars.
The objective of the review was to determine and ensure that such agreements continue to be productive for the company. According to Josem, the recent productivity review revealed that the affiliates terminated were no longer recruiting or bringing in new players and were not so active in promoting PokerStars’ services.
Although PokerStars’ UK-facing business would be affected by the forthcoming implementation of the British PoC Tax, Amaya has other markets to consider. The Canadian company is currently in talks with New Jersey regulators to pursue PokerStars’ pending gambling licence application in the Garden State. In Quebec, Canada, Amaya is reportedly working out a deal with Loto Quebec, as the gaming company aims to see PokerStars operating legally in its home province.