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Is an American Company Looking to Open PokerRoom.com in the US?

By Joss Wood, Rakeback.com Poker News Staff Writer

PokerRoom.com has sent its former players an email announcing that it is back. The site was started by Swedish poker players Oskar Hörnell and Claes Lidell in 1999, and it was one of the best-known poker rooms in the earliest days of online poker. It was a member of the Ongame Network until finally closing on April 14th, 2009. 

PokerRoom.com and the Ongame Network are owned by Bwin.Party, and that leads us to speculate about a possible re-entry to the US market:

  • The UK Sunday Times newspaper has reported that Bwin.Party is selling Ongame to US gaming company Shuffle Master.
  • If so, presumably the PokerRoom.com brand will go with it. 
  • Shuffle Master will then be in the position of owning a respected online poker brand and the software to support it.
  • Shuffle Master is also bidding for a Nevada gaming licence to offer intrastate online poker to Nevada residents.

Putting it all together, it looks like a major gaming industry player is building a strong position from which to secure market share in the US. Shuffle Master’s CEO Gavin Isaacs is saying nothing publicly, but it looks like a pretty smart move.

The Ongame Network is the sixth largest in the world, and already has software clients for PC, Mac, Android and iPhone. Ongame is regulated in Gibraltar, but it is also a fully regulated and licensed operator in France, Italy and Denmark. When it is sold by Bwin.Party, a lot of the players will be transferred to Bwin or PartyPoker accounts, but that will still leave a profitable player base which Shuffle Master can grow.

Bwin bought the Ongame Network for €473 million (~$630M) in 2005 only months before the UIGEA destroyed billions of dollars of value in the industry. The rumoured price that Bwin.Party will get for Ongame post-UIGEA and Black Friday is just €16 million (~$21.3M).

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