The key to establishing networks in these jurisdictions is partnering with one or more operators that can help us achieve a critical mass of players While we are well aware that Phil Galfond’s Run It Once Poker has been working diligently behind the scenes to enter the US regulated market, there’s another poker network showing a keen interest in this lucrative sector.
In an exclusive interview with Poker Industry PRO published recently, iPoker, currently the leading B2B poker network worldwide, has unveiled their exciting plans for North American markets, with a particular focus on the United States.
Baard Dahl, iPoker Network & Promotions Manager at Playtech, expressed genuine excitement about the network’s ambitious plans to expand into the thriving North American markets.
“Expanding into North American markets is a goal we at iPoker are very enthusiastic about,” Dahl stated.
|iPoker in the US: Key Facts
|iPoker, owned by Playtech
|🌎 Current Operation
|Leading B2B poker network with a global presence
|📅 Network Inception
|🏆 Notable global brands
|Bet365, Paddy Power, Betfair, William Hill
|📈 Market Rank
|Third in cash game traffic in the dot-com market
|✈️ Future Plan
|Expansion into North American markets, specifically United States and Ontario
|⚔️ Competition in US
|WSOP/888 network, BetMGM, PokerStars
|🤝 Possible Ontario partners
|NorthStar Bets, Bet365
|⭐ Possible US partners
|Bet365, DraftKings, FanDuel, Hard Rock Bet, Fanatics, Wynn
|🕔 Possible Entry
|Late 2024 or 2025
What is iPoker Network?
iPoker, owned by Playtech, stands as one of the oldest poker networks. Although the UK-based gambling giant was established in 1999, iPoker network made its debut in the fall of 2004. Presently, iPoker comprises a B2B network hosting nearly 50 poker skins, including prominent European brick-and-mortar bookmakers such as Bet365, Paddy Power, Betfair, and William Hill.
In cash game traffic, iPoker ranks third in the dot-com market, well ahead of 888 and partypoker but trailing behind industry giants like GGPoker and PokerStars.
Beyond its global iPoker network, the platform manages segregated networks in various regions, including Italy, where it leads the market with around ten brands; a Spanish-French network with half a dozen brands and potential Portuguese inclusion soon; and a unique Austria-Finland network that combines players from Veikkaus and win2day.
iPoker’s Online Poker Networks
|Global iPoker Network
|The main international network that hosts nearly 50 poker skins.
|Bet365, Paddy Power, Betfair, William Hill
|A segregated network leading the market in Italy with around 10 brands
|Betclic, Lottomatica, Sisal, SNAI
|A network that combines Spanish and French players, with potential inclusion of Portuguese players soon.
|A unique network combining players from Austria and Finland.
While iPoker has explored various markets globally, one notable exception is the North American market. Although it made a small-scale attempt post-Black Friday with the launch of Calshark — a play-money site in collaboration with the now-defunct California Online Poker Association (COPA) and Scientific Games — the venture dissolved over a year later as COPA disbanded following the state’s failure to pass online poker legislation.
Beyond this little stint, iPoker/Playtech refrained from entering the US market but remained vigilant, closely monitoring developments.
Likely Partner Choices for iPoker in North America
iPoker has set its sights on entering another North American market, specifically Ontario, Canada’s largest province. In 2022, the company expressed its intention to launch online poker in the regulated Ontario market, contemplating potential partnerships with multiple skins. Among them, NorthStar Bets was mentioned, and possibilities with Bet365 and Coolbet (although Coolbet exited the Ontario market in April 2023) were also explored. However, as of now, these plans have not materialized.
For iPoker to establish a presence in either the US or Ontario, the crucial step is forming a partnership, whether with a land-based casino or a reputable online gaming company. Further, iPoker operates as a B2B network, setting it apart from other players in the US, so it would want to secure at least two or more partners to combine liquidity effectively.
“The key to establishing networks in these jurisdictions is partnering with one or more operators that can help us achieve a critical mass of players,” Dahl emphasized.
Predicting potential partners for iPoker in Ontario is relatively straightforward, as the network has already hinted at two or three prospective brands. In the US, it is difficult to assess who those partners could be.
Based on criteria such as market access, brand reputation, a substantial customer base, and poker expertise, iPoker might consider partnering with entities like Bet365, DraftKings, FanDuel, Hard Rock Bet, Fanatics, Wynn, and others.
Burgeoning Regulated US Online Poker Market
Regardless of which partner iPoker chooses, the regulated US online poker market is poised for growth.
Currently, the market is primarily shaped by three key operators: WSOP/888 network, BetMGM, and PokerStars. These operators have a footprint in a minimum of three states, namely New Jersey, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. WSOP USA extends its reach to Nevada, although its partner 888 recently lost market access in Delaware.
Each of these networks has partnerships with land-based casino operators. WSOP is affiliated with Caesars/William Hill, BetMGM has Borgata/MGM Resorts, and PokerStars has formed a partnership with Resorts/Mount Airy Casino.
Then there’s Phil Galfond’s Run It Once Poker poised to enter the US market later this year. Its expansion will be facilitated by a partnership with Rush Street Interactive, an entity already holding gaming licenses under the BetRivers brand.
The forthcoming entry of both Run It Once Poker and the potential iPoker network into the US market may mean that soon, online poker players in the US will have four or five options to choose from.
While acknowledging the challenge of predicting the exact timeline for iPoker entry in the US, Dahl expressed optimism, stating, “I am optimistic about making significant progress sooner rather than later.”
We think there is potential for iPoker to establish a presence in either the iPoker US network or iPoker Ontario, and this development could potentially unfold in late 2024 or 2025.