New Faces in CMO, COO positions at Amaya Gaming’s Rational Group

Rational Group appoints new CMO, COORational Group, parent company of PokerStars and Full Tilt, has undergone a multitude of changes in the last year. Since being acquired by Canadian-based Amaya Gaming, the business strategy has—most would say—improved remarkably. The company’s latest endeavor was to implant new senior management leaders at Rational Group in the roles of CMO and COO.

It’s been confirmed that Amaya Gaming initiated the appointment of two new heads of operations on Friday, April 10. The role of Chief Marketing Officer was awarded to Gino Appiotti, while the position of Chief Operating Officer now belongs to Israel Rosenthal. According to their resumes and experience logs, both certainly appear to be well qualified for their new employment status at Rational Group.

Gino Appiotti, CMO Rational Group

Gino Appiotti has 19 years of multi-national experience in marketing. After graduating cum laude from Libera Università Internazionale degli Studi Sociali Guido Carli, Appiotti took on the role on Marketing  Director for the Central American division of Pepsi in 1996. Four years later, he was promoted to VP of Marketing, Frito Lay Europe, the snack division of Pepsico. Five years ago, he engineered his own Hispanic-targeted online gaming company before going to work for Rational Group as the President of PokerStars Southern Europe in 2012.

As the new CMO, Appiotti will be replacing Alex Payne, who’s held the position since 2011. Payne no longer collects a paycheck from Rational Group, having accepted an offer to become the new CMO of eBay Europe.

Israel Rosenthal, COO Rational Group

Although educational and vocational information for Israel Rosenthal has not been made public, it is known that he has served in numerous operational oversight positions within the Rational Group for years. His appointment to the COO position was decided by Amaya after a comprehensive review of the company’s managerial team.

Rosenthal will replace former COO of Rational Group, Rafi Ashkenazi, who joined Rational Group as COO in 2011 after spending 5 years with Playtech as COO (2006-2010) and VP of Business Operations (2010-2011). Sources indicate that Ashkenazi has been moved to a new position within the parent company, Amaya Gaming.

Year of Modifications to Rational Group Business Strategy

There have been so many changes to the business strategy at Rational Group in the last year it’s enough to make your poker chips spin. The most significant came by way of online gaming expansions at PokerStars.

It wasn’t that long ago that, under previous ownership, PokerStars declared it would never extend internet gaming offerings beyond online poker. That was shortly after Rational Group bought out the Full Tilt Poker brand during its settlement with the US DOJ post-Black Friday. At that time, Full Tilt was rebranded (dropping the ‘Poker’ part of its name) to introduced online casino games into the mix.

Before Amaya took over in mid-2014, the Scheinberg’s had announced their intentions to deviate from the poker-only model and expand PokerStars as well, and Amaya has run with that strategy ever since the acquisition. The company completed the full launch of PokerStars Casino in January of this year, and just last month diversified its casino offerings further with the launch of PokerStars Live Casino, presenting live dealer baccarat, blackjack, casino hold’em and roulette.

Rational Group also intends to enter the online sports betting market via PokerStars. Amaya announced in January that PokerStars Sports is expected to launch ahead of schedule before the end of the first quarter. If that statement holds true, the sports betting operation should be up and running sometime this month.

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