PokerStars has reportedly bought a stake in London’s newest land-based casino. The Sunday Times reports the worldwide poker giant has made good on rumors that it would diversify away from the online poker markets and has taken a minority stake in the Hippodrome Casino to help do so. The story has it that Stars have bought an unspecified number of shares in the venue, which couldn’t really be any nearer the centre of the iGaming universe, London, than it is.
The Thomas family, which owns the venue, invested around £40million to renovate it and the “minority stake” taken by Stars means they now own a part of a casino that is valued at £100million.
Rumors about Stars moving into a world that isn’t just limited to poker began last month when a survey was sent out that encouraged customers to indicate what else they did when not playing on their site. At the time, head of corporate communications Eric Hollreiser hushed suggestions they’d be entering the sports betting market or anything else for that matter. If the latest story is to believed, that clearly wasn’t the case and whatever the reason for dismissing the rumors was, the public companies that populate the sports betting and casino industries should now be touching cloth.
If it wasn’t bad enough for their competitors that Full Tilt Poker is about to relaunch, their rivals now have to worry about Stars strengthening their grip on parts of the business that were once just the preserve of Europe’s legion of publicly-traded firms. Stars entering the casino market, and maybe the sports betting market at a later date, spells bad news for some firms that have been resting on their laurels for too long. That’s of course if Stars can make a success of it – something that firms already in the casino and sports betting businesses definitely shouldn’t be taking for granted.