A business update released by Amaya Gaming on Thursday confirms that PokerStars will launch its first-ever sports betting platform by the end of April.
The launch is in line with the plan outlined by Amaya Chief Executive Officer David Baazov in June 2014, when he explained that "with the continuing trend of online gaming regulation around the world, the company has in front of itself an enormous opportunity to leverage its brand recognition and customer loyalty to diversify into other gaming verticals as casino, sports betting and social gaming."
Amaya anticipates that the launch of PokerStars' sports betting platform will happen "ahead of schedule" as the product is set to become available "in the first quarter of 2015."
The rollout of PokerStars’ sports betting platform will follow the same route that was already tested with the launch of online casino games, as sports betting is set to be gradually offered in all the countries where the poker room operates as part of its PokerStars 7 client.
"The sports betting product will launch within the PokerStars poker client in certain markets and PokerStars will gradually add more markets as well as web and mobile versions throughout the year," Amaya wrote.
The company’s interest into the sports betting vertical was unveiled only few days after Amaya bought PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker’s parent company The Rational Group at the end of a massive $4.9 billion operation.
Online Casino to Go Mobile in 2015
Amaya’s PokerStars-centered business update also expanded on the way the group dealt with the launch of online casino games, explaining that "PokerStars completed the rollout of casino table games to players in eligible markets on PokerStars.com, and certain domains sharing liquidity on the global network."
The availability of casino games on PokerStars 7 is only the first piece of a more complex puzzle that should finally be completed in late 2015, when the Amaya will launch a mobile casino platform and also intensify its marketing efforts.
"PokerStars will also launch web and mobile versions of its casino in 2015, supported by an aggressive consumer marketing campaign," the group writes.
Although the launch of online casino games has been criticized by many and led two-time European Poker Tour (EPT) champion Victoria Coren-Mitchell to end her sponsorship contract with the poker room, Amaya believes that the operation has generated results "above expectations."
Referring to Spain’s regulated market, where the casino games were first introduced, Amaya explains that despite it has not yet launched any notable marketing campaign, "PokerStars estimates it has achieved a significant double-digit share."
Also, "PokerStars saw a 30% cross-sell of casino table games to its active player base on PokerStars 7 in Spain, which was above expectations and represented a faster cross-sell ramp up than was experienced on Full Tilt despite table games being the only casino games available."
The room’s growth in Spain, however, was halted right during the Christmas holidays - as some technical issues forced the poker room to take down all its blackjack and roulette tables.
"The casino games were withdrawn from PokerStars.es in late 2014 in order to modify the offering to allow players to download their hand histories. It is aiming to re-launch them within a matter of weeks."