Betfair will offer Playtech’s iPoker products to all of its players this month, as it prepares to migrate all of its poker operations to the Playtech-owned network from Ongame by July 2013.
Playtech becoming the exclusive provider of online poker to Betfair was widely expected after the betting exchange announced last September that it would be joining Playtech’s poker networks in the ring-fenced markets of Spain and Italy.
Head of Playtech’s iPoker, Roei Gavish, said the company was “delighted” to announce Betfair would be moving all its poker operations, including its dot.com room, to iPoker. He added that Betfair would benefit from the network seeing “positive development from both a liquidity and technological standpoint”.
Betfair’s director of gaming Sam Hobcraft said launching “New Betfair Poker” on Playtech’s network would “help us better retain our existing player base and attract a new audience”.
The betting exchange, which undertook a costly sponsorship of the World Series of Poker Europe from 2007 until 2010, moved its poker room to the then bwin-owned Ongame network from its own proprietary software in July 2010, which failed to stem the fall in its poker revenues.
The previous Betfair CEO David Yu also admitted just eight months after making the move in March 2011 that he was “concerned” about the impact on the network of the imminent merger between Ongame’s then owner bwin and PartyGaming, which became bwin.party.
The writing was very much on the wall for the relationship between Betfair and Ongame in June last year, when Betfair delayed its application for a poker licence in Spain and was not named as one of Ongame’s licensees in the market.
Betfair’s transition to iPoker from Ongame follows a month after bwin.party completed the long-anticipated migration of its bwin.com poker players to the PartyPoker platform, draining further liquidity from Ongame.
Ongame is now the 13th largest site/network for cash player numbers, according to PokerScout, compared to 6th when Betfair joined back in July 2010.
Betfair will join other leading UK sports betting brands bet365, Paddy Power, William Hill and Gala Coral on the iPoker network, which began segregating operators’ players into two groups based on a network scoring mechanism from last September. The move was aimed at protecting the player ecology and market share of Playtech’s main licensees who bring in more than 70% of its revenues and the bulk of new recreational players, or “fish”, through marketing and advertising.
Article written by Stephen Carter