It wasn’t all that long ago that PokerStars officials declared the online poker room would never expand into other avenues of online gaming; that sector had been reserved for sister site, Full Tilt. Since Amaya took the helm however, rumors that a PokerStars Casino was in the works began to circulate. Then came PokerStars.ES Casino (Spain) and an announced rollout in Italy. Now the online poker giant has confirmed the upcoming introduction of blackjack and roulette across all their global markets, with more casino games and an online sportsbook on the horizon.
This latest announcement came on Friday, November 21, in the form of a statement from Rational Group. PokerStars validated the reports that its casino games will be extended across all markets, starting with blackjack and roulette in 2014, and eventually snowballing into a full-blown online casino, as well as an online sportsbook, sometime in 2015.
The staggered roll out shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. Some of you will remember Full Tilt taking the same route when it introduced blackjack and roulette in January of this year. Before long, Full Tilt Casino was extending its games portfolio to include slots, live casino games and multi-player capabilities. It’s safe to assume that PokerStars will tread those same footsteps to deliver a similar experience for members of the world’s largest online poker room.
Although the time frame is rather vague at the moment, PokerStars did say that it expects at least 50% of their global customer base to have access to online blackjack and roulette games in 2014. The stakes are said to start as low as $0.10 for a hand of blackjack, which concurs with PokerStars’ founding of micro-stakes in the online poker industry oh-so long ago. A maximum stake has not been divulged, but the statement mentioned that the limits are being developed to appeal to their current poker playing clientele. That seems to point towards high rollers tables being in the mix.
As to why PokerStars has chosen to enter the online casino and sports betting markets, Eric Hollreiser, Head of Corporate Communications for Rational Group, said, “We thoroughly researched the opportunity and spent a lot of time talking to players and analyzing the behavior of our customers on PokerStars.ES and Full Tilt. Those launches have been successful in reactivating dormant customers and extending the value of our existing poker customers,” said Hollreiser.
“We are taking the same principles, practices and integrity that make PokerStars such a successful and beloved brand and applying them to new verticals.” Hollreiser went on to affirm the company’s dedication to the online poker room’s devoted player base. “We are committed to extending our leadership in poker and will continue to serve the passionate online poker player, while expanding our reach into new audiences and new gaming opportunities,”
The attempt at a sportsbook launch is the most interesting development in my book. Rational Group has never linked a sports betting platform to any of its brands, but then again, it’s hard to pinpoint any shortcomings in PokerStars’ past – why we should expect any different now? And logically speaking, PokerStars’ expansion into sports betting was inevitable. Rational Group is the only major online poker company that hasn’t linked its services to an online sportsbook.