Full Tilt Poker is set to be reborn as Full Tilt Gaming, a move that will see the longstanding poker-only outfit add casino games to its offering. Full Tilt (Whatever) was acquired in 2012 by the Rational Group, the Isle of Man-based parent company of PokerStars, which issued the following statement on Tuesday:
“The Rational Group intends to expand our product offering to include casino style games on Full Tilt Poker. While adding new games, we remain committed to building our leadership in poker with PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker and continuing to deliver the highest quality poker experience to players. These new games on Full Tilt will provide more gaming options with the same high quality player experience, integrity, security, safety and support that players have come to expect from our brands. PokerStars will continue to offer a poker-only experience.”
Earlier this month, the Rational Group struck an online gambling partnership with Atlantic City’s Resorts Casino Hotel to offer services to New Jersey residents. New Jersey’s online market will allow operators to offer a full range of products, but it’s unclear if Rational now intends to do a switcheroo and sub in FTG’s full-spectrum offering in lieu of Stars’ poker-only product.
It’s also unclear from where FTG’s casino products will derive; whether Rational will seek an outright acquisition of a casino software outfit or opt for a licensing relationship. (Either way, Rational’s addition earlier this year of former Playtech exec Rafi Ashkenazi suddenly makes a whole lot more sense.) It could be a stretch, but PokerStars has a land-based casino tie-in with London’s Hippodrome, which has an online casino product powered by Microgaming. The Isle of Man-based software outfit has fallen on hard times of late following the defection of Ladbrokes to Playtech, so if anyone’s noticed Stars’ boss Isai Scheinberg and Microgaming CEO Roger Raatgever getting on famously in an Isle of Man tearoom, post those pictures now.
Rumors of the FTG revamp first surfaced on Monday via Online Poker Report, but sharp-eyed readers will remember that CalvinAyre.com suggested last September that Rational was prepping an expansion beyond poker products. This suggestion was immediately shot down by Stars’ communications chief Eric Hollreiser, and in strictly technical terms, Hollreiser’s claim that Stars wasn’t looking to broaden its horizons were accurate. But clearly, Rational was already cooking up expansion plans for its new FTP acquisition, and our prediction that their broadened horizons spelled trouble for their European competitors stands on its own merits.