bwin.party ruled out a move for Full Tilt Poker because it was “too complicated to execute”, co-CEO Jim Ryan has admitted.
Speaking after the company unveiled its strategy to return its declining poker business to growth and become “the clear No 2 network” behind eventual Full Tilt acquirer PokerStars, Ryan (pictured) admitted: “We did in fact take a look at it. We looked at it in the early phases of the asset becoming available, and not that long ago we were re-invited to come back and take a look at the asset. Our assessment was it was too complicated to execute.”
The former chief of PartyGaming ahead of its 2011 merger with bwin said: “At the time we were looking at it, the business had been shut down. Our analysis was that the brand was in decline, at that stage. Expectations were perhaps not where they ended up, and we had to deal with the Department of Justice, we would have to deal with gaming regulators. We were integrating bwin and Party and it became an issue of focus for us. So we passed for those reasons.”
He however paid tribute to PokerStars for managing to drag such a complex transaction across the finish line. “We congratulate PokerStars for completing this. We think that transaction is nothing but fantastic, for the poker community, the poker consumers, and we think it will be very good news for the European poker market, as some of those missing dollars come back into the system.”
Ryan said the group’s aim now was to create an environment from the merger of its poker businesses in which recreational players and sharks, who play the game for a living, could both thrive.
“What we are doing is seeking a balance, finding a formula that motivates the recreational player to come in and enjoy themselves and continue to deposit, and a balance that a shark will know, ‘My God, the bwin and Party environment just merged, it’s the clear No 2 network, there’s probably going to be a pretty good shot for me to go in there and make some money from playing’, but they perhaps won’t get as rich from bonus costs. So, motivate them through the liquidity as opposed to a return of revenue to them. That’s our plan and we are quite confident that will work.”
Ryan’s co-CEO Norbert Teufelberger said the integration of the PartyPoker and bwin player pools could only have taken place once PartyPoker had taken steps to rebalance the player pool in favour of more casual players, such as removing high stakes tables above US$5/$10 and amending its contract with a large affiliate the operator said had been driving large numbers of marginally profitable players to its sites.
Teufelberger said: “We had to go through this exercise before we merged liquidities, because otherwise the bwin players would have been eaten alive, as this is primarily a fish pond, so we had to rebalance it, as otherwise the liquidity merge would have been a disaster.”
The group said it predicted the pooling of liquidity from its own brands and partners in dot.com markets and within France and Italy to result in a “30-50% increase in player liquidity”. In addition to its main brands, bwin.party provides poker in France on behalf of PMU and Aviation Club de France, and owns local Italian operator Gioco Digitale. Liquidity in the dot.es market was pooled from from June, when the regulated market opened for business.