Playtech, owner of the iPoker online poker network, will be welcoming at least nine MPN skins onto its platform today, as the competing business-to-business MPN will shut its doors.
In addition to welcoming the new skins, Playtech is rolling out a new poker client, their MTT schedule is under review, it is adapting with moving live events online, and new partnerships are in the works, the company has revealed.
iPoker will be picking up some key online poker skins today, most notably the entire portfolio of Betsson. Red Star Poker helps iPoker expand its footprint in Russia and the Ukraine; Paf and Coolbet bring with them players from Estonia, Norway, Finland and Sweden; Grosvenor brings a UK player base and a live tour.
The migration of theses skins onto the iPoker platform from MPN is undoubtedly a significant coup for Playtech. While it was the natural choice for many skins, it seemed likely six months ago that an upstart network like GGPoker would pick up a few more, and some may have even launched their own independent online poker.
It could not come at a better time for Playtech. Its online poker offering has been struggling in recent years: Revenue fell 12% in 2019, extending years of weak performance. Its product has arguably failed to keep up with the rapid development and massive investment being made by bigger operators like PokerStars, partypoker and GGPoker.
iPoker also lost a couple of important skins recently. Coral, and most recently Ladbrokes, switched over to the partypoker platform this year, following GVC’s acquisition of those brands.
It faces a similar prospect with Betfair and Paddy Power, the online poker rooms of Flutter. The company recently acquired The Stars Group, parent company of PokerStars. In the short term, these will remain where they are, but down the line the company plans to merge the Paddy Power-Betfair division with TSG, and there is likely a plan long-term to bring all online poker under the PokerStars platform.
Yet despite these recent losses and the intense competition, it has hung on to its cash game traffic. It still ranks above the likes of Unibet and MPN, and it has benefited as much as any other network with the recent surge in online poker traffic interest: It almost doubled from its pre-coronavirus level of 600 concurrent cash game seats in the first week or March to well over 1000 today (it peaked at 1400).
With a new poker client in the works, the prospect of a bustling summer, and a handful of big brands joining the network, PRO catches up with Marat Koss, Head of Poker at Playtech, and Joerg Nottebaum, iPoker Network Manager, to discuss what the future holds.