Playtech said it plans to launch an online poker network running its iPoker software in Ontario’s regulated space by year’s end and with its startup partner, NorthStar Bets. It also confirmed that it is presently looking for other online poker operators with brands more familiar to players to join the network.
Securing partnerships with more established online poker operators is an essential component of making an iPoker network in Ontario more competitive. The province is on track to becoming a crowded field — there could be as many as five online poker networks running up to 10 Ontario online poker apps by the end of the year.
Last week, Playtech announced that it had launched its IMS platform for Toronto-based NorthStar, meeting the terms of an agreement from January. The platform supports casino, live casino, poker, and bingo software.
In an exclusive with Poker Industry PRO, Playtech confirmed that it was looking for potential partners to join an iPoker network in Ontario. Still, the company said it could not discuss who those potential partners could be or when such a network would launch.
Ontario Already Has More Online Poker Action Than Any US State
If Playtech’s plans for an iPoker network in Ontario come to fruition, poker players in the province could have up to five online poker networks to choose from. In less than three months, Ontario has more online poker options than any US jurisdiction, some of which have been live for years.
The province’s segregated market for poker currently has two competing networks with four online poker rooms. 888poker Ontario launched on April 4, while BetMGM Poker Ontario went live the following day. Two Entain brands — bwin and partypoker — launched online poker rooms one week later, creating a three-skin online poker network with BetMGM.
List of Potential iPoker Partners Includes bet365 and Coolbet
Playtech would likely want at least two or three operators to join an iPoker network in Ontario since NorthStar is not a familiar brand. It just launched its online casino and sportsbook products last month.
Two potential iPoker partners seen as most likely to join are bet365 and Coolbet. Ontario regulators have already issued licenses to both operators, and — perhaps, more importantly — both run skins on iPoker networks in several European countries.
Unibet, another Ontario licensed operator, has partnered with Playtech in France. Meanwhile, Betway signed a multi-year partnership with Playtech last month. Although the agreement with Betway doesn’t mention poker, it does include online casino games — likely on offer through the IMS platform.
Another possibility would be for Playtech to convince government-run lotteries in British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec to migrate to Playtech software. Such a move is considered a longshot, but the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) has suggested creating an interprovincial poker network with British Columbia and Quebec in the past.