PokerStars is without a doubt the largest online poker hub of the world. It was launched in 2001 by the Rational Group, founded by a former IBM engineer. In time it has grown to be the largest poker room ever created, with over 50 million registered users. It now operates brands like PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker online, and land based brands like the European Poker Tour, the Latin American Poker Tour or the Asian Poker Tour, with stops in major cities all over the world.
PokerStars was last year taken over by Amaya Gaming, a Canadian online gambling company active mostly in the online and land-based casino industry. It was a surprise for some, but the amount paid by the Canadian company for the Rational Group as a whole sounds convincing enough: $4.9 billion. Just… wow! The Canadian group successfully bought into the poker business, but also thought of expanding it with new gambling options: PokerStars has included online casino games into its offer. The game variety includes blackjack and roulette at this moment, available as real money games and virtual currency games. Seemingly the company tries to venture into other branches of online gambling, slowly turning into a one-stop shop for all our gambling needs. It surely has the user base to do it. Hopefully this move won’t affect smaller online casinos, like the Euro Palace online casino for example. It’s not at this moment – as dedicated online casinos mostly rely on their slot machines – but it can happen in the future.
It remains to be seen how far Amaya is willing to go in including other gambling options with PokerStars. Surely some of its users are involved in other forms of gambling – like sports betting or bingo for example. Amaya could in the future acquire licenses for these forms of gambling, too, and start offering players these options along with poker. This could mean a serious drop in its competitors’ user base – why bother using dedicated sports betting / poker / casino sites when they can get all the action they require in one place, with one account and with a single bankroll?
These might just be the plans of Amaya for the future, but most likely not in the short term. PokerStars is still best known as an online poker room – and their casino games will most likely adopted just slowly by their users. Even if they plan to break into the other gambling markets in the future, it will take time until they make up their minds, leaving us with an (almost) dedicated poker room to play at.