Canada’s Amaya Gaming, a growing player in international gambling business, has hired former Absolute Poker CEO and COO Paul Leggett as its head of online gaming, replacing Peter Bertilsson, who will continue on as a consultant with the company.
Leggett’s hiring was first reported by eGaming Review last week, and has since been confirmed independently by pokerfuse, despite no formal announcement of the hiring by Amaya.
Leggett is expected to oversee one of Amaya’s new acquisitions, the Ongame Network, in particular. Bertilsson was the former Managing Director of Ongame Services, and Leggett, according to EGR, will now head up Amaya’s online division and is “responsible for all of Amaya’s online activities.”
Neither Leggett nor Amaya responded to inquiries from pokerfuse asking for confirmation of Leggett’s hiring, his official title, expected responsibilities and an interview.
The future roles of both Leggett and Ongame have the potential to raise eyebrows in states such as Nevada, where recently enacted online poker legislation includes a five-year “bad actor” provision for post-UIGEA, US-facing sites. Leggett served as CEO, COO and owner for several US-facing entities from 2007 onward, including Absolute Poker, UB.com (formerly Ultimate Bet), and Tokwiro Enterprises, a shell holding company fronted by former Kahnawake Grand Chief Joseph Tokwiro Norton.
Absolute Poker, which also owned UB.com, ceased operations after the April 2011 “Black Friday” crackdown by the United States, leaving tens of millions in player balances unpaid to its worldwide, though largely American, player base. Leggett was most often cited as the COO of UB.com as the Black Friday indictments were passed down.
The Ongame Network is one of the oldest online poker networks which operated in the United States prior to the passage of UIGEA. The former home to sites including bwin, PokerRoom.com and Hollywood Poker, the network was first operated by BetAndWin, which morphed into bwin.party following a 2011 merger.
With a surplus of gaming assets following the merge, bwin.party began a search for an Ongame buyer. The network was first sold to Shuffle Master, who later backed out of the deal. Amaya later purchased Ongame for a lessened price. Shuffle Master (now SHFL) then negotiated a pact with Amaya to use the Ongame platform.
Amaya also has a deal in place with Bally Technologies which, like SHFL, is already an approved licensee in Nevada’s new online poker regime. It remains to be seen whether Amaya’s hiring of Leggett presents any overriding concerns for Nevada regulators.