Dave Knott (2917251) writes Montreal-based gaming company Amaya Gaming Group Inc. has agreed to purchase privately held Oldford Group, the owner of online poker websites PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, for $4.9 billion. The deal marks the end of a remarkable story that began when Isai Scheinberg, an Israeli-Canadian former IBM computer programmer, founded PYR Software in Toronto and started building PokerStars, which eventually became the largest online poker site in the world. But in 2011, federal prosecutors in Manhattan launched a massive crackdown against online poker in the U.S., indicting Scheinbeg, suing PokerStars and shutting down the U.S. operations of the company for operating an illegal gambling business. In 2012, PokerStars struck a $731 million settlement with federal prosecutors that also saw the company acquire the assets of Full Tilt Poker. However, reentering the vital U.S. market has proved difficult, and in the end, it started to make sense for the Scheinbergs to sell. The Scheinbergs will not remain with PokerStars in any capacity after the current deal closes. In a statement announcing the deal, Amaya said it believes the "transaction will expedite the entry of PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker into regulated markets in which Amaya already holds a footprint, particularly the U.S.A."
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