The PartyPoker-Bwin Merger

If you’re a gambling enthusiast you’re probably well aware PartyPoker  is now owned by the world’s largest publicly traded gambling company. Of course, not much has changed. All the same shareholders, staff, management etc. continue to run the Party Poker brand. In case you’re not a gambling enthusiast and missed the news, Party Gaming and Bwin merged on March 31, 2011. In this article we’ll take a brief look at what this means for the companies and shareholders, but first let’s look at the history of Bwin and then cover how this merger impacts Party Poker players and remember nothings changed.

Brief Bwin History

Bwin, originally betandwin until changing their name in 2006, was founded in 1997. The company grew rapidly as a sports betting site thanks to first movers advantage. Betandwin was the first to offer technology that allowed players to bet live while sports matches were in progress. After a series of acquisitions, by 2005 they owned sports betting brands in numerous European countries and even the media rights outside of Germany to the German Football League.

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In 2006 the company launched their bwin.com brand, and after acquiring the OnGame poker network in December, they began moving all their other brands to operate under the bwin.com web address. The company continued to grow at a rapid pace and by the time they merged with PartyGaming in March 2011, they were the fourth largest publicly traded gambling company in the world.

How the Merger Impacts Players

The good news for Party Poker players is more growth opportunity for Party Poker which is likely to result in higher player volume and softer games. At the moment Bwin.Party is evaluating their options for the OnGame network, which currently all the operators using combing in volume to share a spot as the world’s fourth largest online poker site. It seems at this time Bwin.Party is likely to sell this network, isolating the smaller skins such as Hollywood Poker and Betfair to their own Network while Bwin.com will eventually become a PartyPoker Skin. If and when this happens there will be a noticeable increase in player volume at PartyPoker.com.

What’s interesting here, PartyPoker is already the largest European licensed online poker site. A merge with Bwin will help expand the narrow gap they have over the iPoker Network, which hosts dozens of reputable bands such as Bet365 and William Hill. The great news for the players, should bwin move to partypoker, the increased player volume will likely result in softer games. Bwin.com as one of the industry’s largest sports betting sites produces more spillover than perhaps any other brand in online gambling. What this means is players with limited to no poker experience come to Bwin looking to bet sports, and then find themselves giving the poker room a try. This helps keep the games incredibly soft.

So at this time while there are not too many changes on the player side for Bwin.Party, we do expect there will be plenty of changes positive for the players in the coming months.

About the PartyPoker Merger

The rumors of a planned Bwin and Party merger began in November 2009, but were not confirmed until a joint statement was issued August 26, 2010. In December 2010 shareholders were sent a 478-page document which included details and an outline of planned merger. On Jan 28, 2011 the merger was approved by shareholders and then completed on March 31, 2011.

Share Holder Details: The new company is a Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment PLc which trades on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) under the ticker BPTY. The company is owned 51.6% by former bwin shareholders and 48.4% by former PartyGaming shareholders.

Management Changes: All management retained their positions after the merger, the only change is former bwin CEO Norbert Teufelberger and former PartyGambing CEO Jim Ryan now act as the co-CEOs of Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment PLc.

The Future of PartyPoker

Party Poker is one of the few brands in online gambling that has always complied with US gambling laws. Following the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA) in the states, PartyPoker immediately blocked US players from accessing their site. Not wanting to take any chances, major shareholders of PartyPoker began cooperating with the US authorities and while still maintaining their innocence entered statements they may have been involved in illegal online gambling in the US prior to UIGEA. This matter has since been settled with Party Poker returning a large position of their US gambling profits in exchange for amnesty. This leaves PartyPoker.com one of the few sites to operate legally in a few US states.

The merger of Party Poker and Bwin sees them form a single company valued at nearly £5 billion, making them the wealthiest publicly traded company in online gambling. Most experts feel if the United States fully opens to online poker, which has a population over 307 million, opens for business, Party.Bwin is in a prime position to benefit from it. This could see them becoming to online gambling what Coca-Cola is to soft drinks.

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