World Series of Poker Europe

Europe in Pills: PokerStars Goes Irish, Unibet Poker Reports Record Growth & More

Europe in Pills Unibet PokerStars
  • Unibet Poker shows encouraging signs of growth and helps the Unibet Group to report an all-time revenue high.

  • PokerStars acquires Irish sports betting license right before the Premier League begins.

For the first time since leaving the Microgaming Poker Network (MPN), Unibet Poker started to show signs of encouraging growth with the company's poker revenues going up 12 percent in Q2 of 2015 in a year-over-year comparison.

In a conference call held on Aug. 5, Unibet's Chief Executive Officer Henrik Tjärnström welcomed the company's positive performance and explained that the second quarter has been a positive one for the whole group as Unibet reached an all-time revenue high.

Meanwhile, PokerStars' march into the sports betting vertical continued as the company secured a license to offer sports betting products in Ireland, which came just at the right time as the football season in Europe is set to begin.

PokerStars Acquires Irish Sports Betting License

With the beginning of the football season in Europe kicking off this weekend — England's Premier League starts already on August 8 — PokerStars announced that they had received an online sports betting license in Ireland.

While the Amaya-owned gaming company plans to continue to offer poker and casino gambling services through the license issued by the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA), the new license will allow them to offer sports betting products within Ireland's recently regulated market.

The Managing Director of sports betting for PokerStars, Stephen Fisk, was pleased with the sports betting license and explained it'll allow the operator to offer players a greater variety of services.

"We're very pleased to receive a license for our sports betting offering on PokerStars in Ireland," Fisk said. "Our operation of poker, casino games, and now sports betting shows that players trust us to deliver a variety of games in a fun and exciting way. We look forward to building on this by operating under this new license."

Irish punters will be able to place their bets on 18 different sports through the same PokerStars 7 client they already use for their poker games.

PokerStars' sports betting platform launched in beta on April 1, 2015 and was then introduced to the U.K. in June when it became available from the PokerStars 7 client. Initially offering events from football, tennis, basketball, ice hockey, rugby union, handball and volleyball, the platform has since expanded to offer also American Football, Aussie Rules Football, badminton, baseball, boxing, golf, baseball, rugby league and snooker.

A note sent by PokerStars hinted at more markets, features, and sports - including horse racing - being added during the coming months.

Unibet's Bet on Recreational Players Start to Pay Off

In December 2013, Unibet decided to leave the MPN and bring their poker operations in-house unveiling a proprietary client created specifically for the poker room by Relax Gaming.

Unibet's choice to launch its own poker platform was part of a long-term strategy that has seen the company shift its focus to target recreational players and beginners. As part of this strategy, Unibet's former Poker Business Development Manager Andrew West became the company's Head of Poker.

Although the new strategy caused an immediate decline in traffic and revenue, the poker room now seems to be on the right track, with Unibet reporting that poker revenues have increased by 12 percent in Q2 of 2015.

In the "Interim Report January - June 2015" released on Aug. 5, Unibet showed that the company's poker operations have generated revenues for £1.9 million, which marks a substantial increase compared to the £1.7 produced in Q2 of 2014.

According to Unibet's report, the second quarter of 2015 has been positive not only for poker, but for the company as a whole after reporting an all-time group revenue high of £80.5 million.

"The success of the marketing investments made in previous quarters, has also driven organic growth of more than 21% in gross winnings revenue in constant currencies, despite tough comparables from the successful World Cup in 2014. This has also resulted in all-time high in gross winnings revenue," Unibet's Chief Executive Officer Henrik Tjärnström said.

"Mobile revenues grew by 48 percent in GBP, 69 percent in constant currency. The growth in sports book turnover of more than 12 percent in GBP (over 27 percent in constant currency) and the all-time high in casino & games show the very strong underlying activity."

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