“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet.”
Perhaps, but Juliet Capulet wasn’t known for playing cards.
And it’s a fair question to ask of the entity called the “partypoker US Network,” the lowercase entity that online poker players in three US states are no doubt familiar with but may have wondered — why is it called that? And considering the popularity of one of its members, is a name change in order?
What is the partypoker US Network?
In reality, we’re leading with BetMGM. That is the brand with an extraordinary amount of focus and investment. The name “partypoker US Network” can describe several things, but the moniker is usually used to describe an intra-state online poker network in New Jersey that comprises BetMGM Poker NJ, Borgata Poker NJ, and partypoker NJ. Thanks to the connectivity of this network, players in the Garden State across all three platforms can play against each other.
It has also been used previously to describe a similar intra-state partnership in Pennsylvania between BetMGM Poker PA and Borgata Poker PA. Like their counterparts in NJ, players in PA on either platform can play against each other.
The name also extends to include BetMGM Poker MI, but it is rarely used in the industry since neither Borgata nor partypoker is operational there. There could be an uptick in usage of the name after online poker operators in Michigan are cleared to offer multi-state poker by the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB).
Partypoker US Network: Currently Networks and Brands
But while the name includes the word “network,” it’s important to remember that the partypoker US Network really isn’t a network at all — rather, it’s a term used to describe the aforementioned intra-state arrangements in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Once the MGCB authorizes BetMGM Poker MI and two other operators (PokerStars MI and WSOP MI) for multi-state poker under the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA), the partypoker US Network will become a true network — with players in Michigan able to join those in New Jersey.
If Pennsylvania decides to join MSIGA, the network would become even larger — with players in Pennsylvania on BetMGM and Borgata able to go to the virtual felt with players using both platforms in New Jersey.
Why is the network named after partypoker?
Globally, the partypoker brand is one of the most recognized for online poker and has a good reputation.
It was once the largest online poker room in the US but was forced out of the states following the enactment of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) in 2006. When the brand returned to the US in 2013, it only launched in New Jersey.
The brand was acquired by Entain, then known as GVC Holdings, in 2016. Entain also owns half of BetMGM, with MGM Resorts International owning the other half. (Note: MGM also operates the Borgata Casino in NJ, and MGM offers Borgata Poker PA through the land-based casino license of the Rivers-Philadelphia Casino in PA).
Considering the popularity of the BetMGM Poker brand (vs partypoker) in the US, is a name change forthcoming?
Growing the customer base of BetMGM is going to be the focus. [Borgata & partypoker] provide some additional complementary elements. But for the most part, we will be leading with BetMGM. BetMGM’s Head of Poker, Luke Staudenmaier, was posed that question during a podcast interview with pokerfuse last month.
For his part, Staudenmaier said he thinks the word “network” is outdated.
“It makes me think of iPoker, Ongame, and things like that — when in reality, we’re leading with BetMGM,” the executive said. “That is the brand with an extraordinary amount of focus and investment.
“Growing the customer base of BetMGM is going to be the focus. Borgata and partypoker provide reach for us — they provide some additional complementary elements. But for the most part, we will be leading with BetMGM.”
Is a name change even necessary?
Maybe. Maybe not.
To hear Staudenmaier tell it, the real money US online poker market in five years’ time probably won’t look much different than it does today. He appeared to agree with the idea that online poker could be legal and available in seven or eight states by 2027 (compared to just five now — DE, MI, NJ, NV, and PA. Online poker is legal in CT and WV but there are no operators offering it).
But more important than the number of states is the number of operators, he said. Online poker isn’t like online sports betting, with dozens and dozens of operators. A network across multiple states, like the partypoker US Network, will help BetMGM top its rivals.
“BetMGM is obviously going to be at the top,” he said. “In terms of seven or eight states together, a poker market like that can probably support four or five [operators].
“There will be the traditional crew of BetMGM, PokerStars, WSOP, potentially something like WPT, GGPoker, whatever. Some other wild cards would be my guess. I don’t think there will be a dozen different poker operators because there won’t be a dozen different sports and casino operators, either.
“I think that even in the past six months, we’ve seen some changes there that would indicate that there is slowly going to be some consolidation in the other gambling verticals.”
So, will the name be changed?
Maybe. Maybe not, since “parting is such sweet sorrow,” per Miss Capulet.