PokerStars to Open Poker Room in London in 2013 PokerStars to Open Poker Room in London in 2013
James Cridland, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License

PokerStars has struck a deal with the UK’s largest casino, the Hippodrome, in a move which will lead to PokerStars having its own branded B&M poker room in central London. The existing poker room will be refurbished, upgraded and bear the PokerStars brand.

PokerStars plans to hold a range of special events and host sponsored tournaments in its new room. The live tournament schedule will begin in early 2013 and be promoted to its global database of 50 million players.

Eric Hollreiser, head of Corporate Communications at PokerStars, said in a statement to pokerfuse that PokerStars has also taken an equity investment in the Hippodrome as part of the deal.

He added that PokerStars will also provide poker for a future Hippodrome online casino site.

Previously, PokerStars had a partnership with Macau casino Grand Waldo, but has otherwise stayed away from brick and mortar operations, and has not associated itself with any online gambling besides poker.

Guy Templer, Group Strategy Director for PokerStars, said in a statement to pokerfuse:

The Hippodrome has dramatically raised the quality bar for the UK casino industry. So together we will give poker players the same great poker experience, live 24/7 in the heart of London that they get from PokerStars online. We are looking forward to unveiling some great new live events for the UK poker market in 2013.

In a separate deal announced publicly yesterday, the Hippodrome has also partnered with Microgaming. Microgaming will provide online gaming software for games run within the casino.

There will be a three-way joint venture online, with PokerStars providing the poker and Microgaming the casino games under the Hippodrome’s brand.

Microgaming’s CEO, Roger Raatgever announced:

Microgaming is proud to have been selected as the exclusive provider of online gaming software to the iconic London brand The Hippodrome. The convergence of offline and online gaming is a trend that Microgaming has been at the forefront of for some time now and we are delighted to be able to provide a bespoke online casino to The Hippodrome, giving their players a first class cross-platform gaming experience.

The Hippodrome was re-opened three months ago after an extensive £40m refurbishment to provide a 90,000 square foot “international style” casino in London’s West End. The casino has three gaming floors, a two tier smoking terrace, a cabaret theater, five bars and restaurant.

Father and son owners Simon and Jimmy Thomas expect to get over a million visitors in the first year of operation.

The Hippodrome, on the edge of Leicester Square in the center of London’s West End, has a long and colorful history. It was opened as a circus and theater in Jan 1900 and one of the performers in its first ever show was Charlie Chaplin.

Renamed the “Talk of the Town” in the late 1950s, it played host to Shirley Bassey, Frank Sinatra and Tom Jones and pretty much every other top celebrity of the 1960s.

In 1983 it converted yet again to become the world famous Stringfellows nightclub. The latest renovation sees the Hippodrome reborn as the largest casino in the UK.

Earlier this year Mediacorp plc, owners of the collapsed Purple Lounge online poker room, announced that they had signed a deal with the Thomas’s. This announcement however proved to be no more than hype and the deal foundered.