Spanish PokerStars has launched online casino games in their Spain-based client, marking the first time that a PokerStars product has included games other than poker. Both blackjack and roulette are now available in the PokerStars.es software.
“PokerStars aims to remain as the number one poker operator in Spain,” said Gino Appiotti, PokerStars President for Southern Europe. “[We] strongly believe that in this market, adding casino games is the best way to serve players.”
After the purchase of Full Tilt Poker by PokerStars, it was widely speculated that PokerStars would remain a poker-only brand, while Full Tilt would branch out into a more universal gambling hub. That changed somewhat after the Amaya Gaming takeover, and in July, PokerStars’ subsidiary, REEL Spain, earned a license to offer blackjack and roulette in Spain. That made it clear that at least in some regulated markets, the poker site would branch out into other games as well.
“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,” said Amaya CEO David Baazov when announcing the casino licenses. “[The Rational Group] companies do not only have the ability to attract new players, but they are also able to offer popular tables and slot games to their millions of players using their poker platforms.”
In Spain, the addition of casino games to the PokerStars client was a move that was at least partially prompted by competition that offered more than just poker.
“We know that many of our customers are enjoying online casino games on competing platforms,” Appiotti said in a statement. “Our offering will enhance their experience with PokerStars and provide a safe, trusted and convenient way for them to be entertained.”
The new games can be reached through a casino tab that is now included in the client. It appears likely that Italy could also soon receive these games as well, as Amaya seems content to operate only the PokerStars brand in that market rather than launch a new Full Tilt site there. The casino games could also potentially be a part of an upcoming PokerStars launch in New Jersey.
But while it’s likely that the PokerStars casino games will spread to at least a few regulated markets, there’s no indication as of yet that the PokerStars.com site will soon (or ever) feature them. Full Tilt has a much wider selection of casino games, and has been speculated as the future home of a sports book.
The addition of casino games to PokerStars’ Spanish offerings could help cement the brand’s stranglehold on the regulated market in the country. Currently, PokerStars.es averages about 1,100 cash game players on the site, far ahead of 888poker, which averages just over 300 players. No other site averages as many as 100 players. PokerStars also operates the most popular regulated Internet poker room in Italy, and the .com version of the site is by far the largest poker room in the world.