British e-gaming operator SportingBet plans to offer poker on the Ongame Network to its customers by the end of the year through its Paradise Poker brand.
Currently, Paradise Poker offers poker primarily on GTECH G2’s Boss Media Network, also referred to as the International Poker Network (IPN). It also offers poker on Entraction in certain European markets and in Canada. The Ongame Network will be added alongside the current offerings to players.
“Customers will have the choice of whether to play in both poker rooms,” George Hudson, PR representative of SportingBet, told pokerfuse.
Our customers will gain the benefit of being able to move money easily and quickly between networks, play both poker rooms simultaneously and access more promotions and tournaments. This is consistent with Sportingbet’s strategy of offering greater choice to the player in an environment that is convenient, entertaining, fair, regulated and secure.
Ongame boasts more cash game players than Entraction and Boss Media, ranked as the 5th largest poker network according to PokerScout. Ongame also operates licensed rooms in the French and Italian markets.
Paradise Poker will not be the first poker room to offer customers a choice of network. Popular Swedish sportsbook Betsson has a poker room on both Entraction and Ongame; RedBet has poker rooms on Entraction, Boss Media and Ongame under the WhiteBet brand.
Bwin, who acquired the Ongame Network in December 2005 and operates one of the largest skins on the network, merged with PartyGaming to form bwin.party in January 2011, forming the largest e-gaming operator in the world.
However, the merger left doubts over the future of the Ongame Network. In February, EGR reported that bwin.party plans to merge the two poker platforms, and that Ongame is considered “surplus assets” and the network could potentially be sold to “generate revenue which can subsequently be reinvested.” Though the poker room merger was slated for the end of Q1 2011, it has yet to occur.
In September 2010, SportingBet settled with US authorities for $33m over illegal internet gambling prior to the UIGEA. Since the settlement, SportingBet PLC, listed as SBT on the London Stock Exchange, has lost almost 50% of its market value.