Stars Group’s recent acquisitions defy EU anti-trust laws?
The parent company of the world’s biggest poker brand, PokerStars, has recently been alleged by some European gaming industry watchdogs to break Europe’s anti-trust laws. The Stars Group (TSG) had acquired a slew of companies in recent times in the region and these moves were regarded as buying off competitors.
Europe’s anti-trust law is officially known as European competition law which promotes maintenance of competition within the European market. The law seeks to prevent anti-competitive practices, abuse of firm’s monopoly, controls mergers, among other things. The present capitalist society requires healthy competition among companies for incentivising innovation and creativity.
TSG had acquired Full Tilt Poker (FTP) almost a year ago and the move was purported to be in line with buying off competitors. Some inside sources also adamantly stated that “FTP was acquired simply to bin it.” Recently, TSG acquired SkyBet, one of UK’s leading sports betting sites and is now in talks to merge with Irish bookie Paddy Power Betfair too. Last year, TSG went on an acquisition spree and bought Australian bookmakers, William Hill and Crownbet too.
Some time back, the company denied disclosing their stake in PokerNews, a worldwide poker news agency, for years. This was also decoded to mean that while their official stance over the issue was generic and defensive, the company had grand designs to buy off competitors and wanted it to be kept a secret. The secret couldn’t be kept any longer and they ultimately confessed that PokerNews is essentially a mouthpiece of TSG.
In similar recent news, tech giant Google was also ordered to pay a fine of ~$5 billion to by EU for breaching its anti-trust laws following a detailed and scrupulous investigation by EU authorities. Zuckerberg’s Facebook is also one of the companies alleged to breach anti-trust laws.
PokerStars recently announced that they’ll be cutting a massive 55% player rewards in Multi-Table Tournaments (MTTs) and was received angrily by the community and was described by some as a “money-oriented, poker-be-damned” move. It is now up-to EU to decide whether to start an investigation against the poker giant or let it slide, which is highly unlikely given EU’s past.
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