Amaya Gaming near deal to buy poker website PokerStars - Bloomberg

June 12 Thu Jun 12, 2014 4:05pm EDT

June 12 (Reuters) - Canada's Amaya Gaming Group, is near a deal to buy the parent of PokerStars, the world's largest poker website, Bloomberg said, citing two people with knowledge of the situation.

Blackstone Group LP's credit business, GSO Capital Partners LP, is backing the bid and arranging more than $1 billion to help finance the deal, according to one of the people, Bloomberg said. (link.reuters.com/zav99v)

An announcement to buy PokerStars' parent Rational Group Ltd may come on Thursday, one of the people told Bloomberg.

Blackstone is preparing to announce its largest-ever credit deal, with more than $1 billion of fund commitments, Bennett Goodman, head of Blackstone's credit business, said at the company's investor day, according to Bloomberg.

The agreement, which Blackstone expects will be announced on Thursday, is an acquisition financing for a North American company, Goodman said without naming the business involved, Bloomberg reported.

Amaya Gaming' shares rose 17 percent to $14.08 on Thursday, before trading in the stock was halted on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The stock has risen about 39 percent in the last week.

New ownership could remove an obstacle for PokerStars to return to the United States, where online gambling is now legal in three states, Bloomberg reported.

The Isle of Man-based company paid $731 million in July 2012 to settle a money laundering lawsuit filed a year earlier by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Amaya Gaming and PokerStars were not immediately available for comment. (Reporting By Tanvi Mehta and Narottam Medhora in Bangalore; Editing by Savio D'Souza)