Ongame's loss is iPoker's gain…
Gala Poker, part of the British Gala Coral group recently acquired by the Rank Group has departed the Ongame Poker Network and joined Playtech's iPoker equivalent.
The move strengthens Playtech's relationship with the British company, formed when Gala's Italian venture entered the Italian market on Playtech's dedicated Italian network.
iPoker has emerged as the closest international rival to Pokerstars in recent months, overtaking Party Poker, although it lags way behind Pokerstars in player volumes.
The impact on Ongame, recently sold to Shufflemaster, is likely to be substantial; the network, formerly owned by Bwin Interactive, has seen Bet24 leave for the Microgaming network recently following the site's sale to Unibet.
Analyst Daniel Stewart & Co said earlier this year in a note: “We believe a software agreement between Gala Coral and Playtech is imminent but is yet to be publicly announced. Coral’s online business has been struggling of late and the agreement to migrate all of its online offering across to the iPoker platform would not only be a positive move for Coral but in our view further boosts Playtech's position in the UK market and reiterates its position as the premium B2B provider in the market."
Playtech had earlier received permission from its partner William Hill in the William Hill Online joint venture to seek other UK land-based partners